We know God expects us to obey Him, but in our obeying, are our motives important? Does it really matter why we do something as long as we do the right thing?
What difference does it really make if I do the right thing while muttering under my breath why I don’t want to, as long as I do the right thing? On more than one occasion my boss has “guided” my decisions to do the right thing against what I thought was my “better” judgement. My spouse has played the same role guiding my decisions in our home life.
Solomon addressed the question of motivation in Proverbs 21:
1 A king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses.
2 All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD evaluates the motives.
3 Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:1-3, HCSB)
There are three important takeaways from this short passage:
Power. Kings considered themselves to be absolute rulers over their lands and people. But no matter how powerful a king thinks he is, God is more powerful. God is sovereign even over a king. God directs a king’s heart as easily as a farmer directs water into a field to irrigate it.
“It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding” (Daniel 2:21).
Motivation. Men may think their way is right, but God looks inside our hearts at our motives. Men may try to justify their actions in any number of ways. Men try to lift themselves up, to exalt themselves, but God examines our hearts.
Speaking of the Pharisees, Jesus said,
“You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
Obedience. Being obedient to God is more important than the outward actions of religious observance (“doing church”). The Israelites had dozens of laws governing their religious sacrifices, but God says he would rather we be obedient to Him in doing what is righteous and just than go through the motions of making sacrifices for the sake of making sacrifices:
“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hos.6:6).
Summary. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can deceive God. We cannot hide anything from Him. God knows our motives and sees every action. He knows our hearts, our plans, and every word that springs from our lips. He will not bless wrong actions done with good intentions, and He will not bless good actions done with wrong intentions. We must not only do the right thing, we must do it for the right reason!
Examine the motives that drive your decisions. Are you doing the right things for the right reasons? Are you doing the rights things for the wrong reasons? Let’s hope you are not doing the wrong things for any reason!
Join the Conversation!
As always questions and comments are welcome. Do you consider yourself accountable to God for your decisions? What do you struggle with in your decision making? How do you resolve these issues?
Category: Skills | Accountability