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What Motivates You?
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (Proverbs 16:2 NIV).
We typically won’t do anything unless we are motivated to do so. We take action based on a variety of motivations. Our motivations can be positive or negative. Some of the common negative motivators include pride, anger, revenge, entitlement, or the desire for approval or to impress others. These motivations are clearly negative and come from a sinful flesh and do not honor God (Romans 8:8).
4:3 teaches us, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” This is why it is so important for us to invite the Holy Spirit to search us and reveal our sins to us. I love the prayer of the Psalmist, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
The Bible has much to say about motives and many examples of people that took action based on sinful motives. In Genesis 4, Cain kills his brother Abel due to jealousy. Proverbs 16:2 reads, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” The human heart can be deceitful, and we can rationalize to ourselves that are motives are pure. I suspect that Cain was convinced he was doing the right thing. We can fool ourselves and often those around us that we are pure of heart, generous, and kind, but God is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
So, what is a good motivation? The Apostle Paul demonstrated good motives to the Church in Thessalonica by writing, “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). On becoming king of Israel, Solomon prays to our Lord: “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9). Solomon was motivated by a sincere desire to discern good from evil rather than a desire to glorify himself. His prayer had power.
When we give the outward appearance of obeying God, but our hearts are hard we have not fooled God. The only way we can operate from pure motives is when we “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25). When we allow Him to control every part of us, then our desire is to please Him and not ourselves. As we yield more of our heart to God, then we can approach our prayers with confidence and thanksgiving because we are both seeking the same things.
Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for loving us. Please continue to draw us closer to you. Help us to desire what you desire. Amen.
Meet the Author
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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