Have you ever heard someone say, “God knows my heart?”. Those of you that I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing and teaching over the years know that this is one of my most despised sayings in the Christian realm. However, in this particular circumstance, it’s the truth. God truly knows our heart of hearts. He isn’t fooled by actions.
There was an episode of the TV show Friends where Joey challenged Pheobe to perform a “selfless good deed” and she found it very, very difficult to find one. Joey said that behind every good deed there is a selfish motive, even if that motive is simply that it makes the doer feel good inside. Now, truth be told, I don’t encourage any of us to base our wisdom and theology on Friends, much less Joey Tribbiani, but there is potentially something to learn from this scene.
The world is fooled by good deeds done with ill motives. How many times have we seen the celebrity give a ton of money to an organization just before the release of a major motion picture that they just happen to be starring it? Oh? You’re kidding? You are starring in a film about Ethiopian orphans and you just happened to adopt an Ethiopian child this week?? Uncanny.
The act of adoption in this case is really awesome, but the motive behind it is what counts in God’s eyes. We must have integrity in our actions in order for the Kingdom of God to take notice.
The word integrity comes from the root word integrate. Integration is a term most computer nerds will know quite well, it simply means that all parts and software work together to function at full capacity. A construction worker, will likewise, understand integration as being when the foundation, the walls, the ceiling, and the roof all fit and work together to allow for a building to stand and function. But, just like if the building starts to decay (or become corrupted) the walls will begin to lose integrity and the structure will become unsound, the same is to be said for us. When ill motives begin to corrupt our integrity we become less effective for God and His Kingdom.
The danger with motives is that we begin to try and judge other’s motives. Sure, we know the tree by it’s fruit, but what good does it do to discount someone’s action based on our preconceived notions of them?
It is up to us to keep ourselves in line, not others. Trust me, the task is difficult enough without adding others to the equation.
Example: Are you ONLY giving generously to your home church because the Bible promises the windows of heaven will open and blessings will pour out upon you? Are you ONLY looking for that pressed down, shaken together reward? Or do you ALSO recognize the great need set before you? Do you get just as excited (or more so) about the knowledge that your money will support the staff that pours their hearts out into the church body and feed and clothe the missionaries around the world?
I’ve heard it said that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7) but He’ll also take money from the grouch. But is that the truth? If God is all about motives, does He want your bitterly given 10%? Someone who is in need will take, take, take regardless of the giver’s motives or intent. But is God in desperate need? Certainly, He isn’t. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and His streets are paved with gold. God didn’t implement the giving system for His benefit… it’s for ours. It is one of the many ways God is grooming us to be Kings and Priests of the new earth. He wants our motives and our character to be ready for when He assigns us over nations and peoples of new lands.
Motives aren’t just about money and giving to the church. Have you noticed areas of your life where your motives aren’t pure? Feel free to comment below.