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Why Did I Say That?

Starving people don’t care why someone is giving them food. Neither will a drowning person reject the help of someone who is trying to be a hero.

Sometimes  motives don’t seem that important. Even the Apostle Paul wrote that he was more concerned about the message than the motives of those who were spreading the gospel of Christ  (Philip 1:12-18).

But sometimes motives are enormously important. A married woman would definitely care if she knew that her husband was giving her flowers, or buying her a car, to try and smooth over an  adulterous affair.

Paul also saw the importance of motives in his first letter to the church at Corinth (1Corinthians 1-12). In a letter written to help his readers work through a series of strained relationships,  Paul reminded them that (1) if we are eloquently saying the right things for the wrong reasons, we are just making noise; that (2) if we are thinking, understanding, and believing  all of the right things for the wrong reason, it amounts to “nothing”; and that (3) if we give everything we own to feed the poor, even going so far as to sacrifice  our body in the process, for the wrong reason, it will all be worthless as far as we are concerned (1Cor 13:1-3).

Doing the right thing for the wrong reason may not hurt those who benefit from our charity. But wrong motives can harm our relationships if we get caught saying or doing “the right things” (a.) to protect ourselves, (b) to distract from our weakness, (c) to please others, (d) or to make an impression etc…

For some reason, when it comes to “whether we are doing the right thing” before God, so often the issue seems to devolve into “what we are doing,” and whether we are doing “right” or “wrong.”

The truth is that we can spend our time praying in an effort to get our own way, reading and studying our Bible for pride of knowledge, and giving to good causes to develop a reputation as a charitable giver.

If that’s the case (and an inspired Paul assures us that it is), then is it possible that if we are spending most of our time on what we are doing rather than why, maybe we should reverse, revise, or re-allocate what we are thinking about?

Is it possible that wise paths are often found in “why’s” places.

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54 Responses to “Why Did I Say That?”

  1. daisymarygoldr says:

    I’m not sure if I’m getting this right…

    There is no wise paths… there is only one wise path and that is God’s path… and once we begin to walk on that path our sole motive is just to please Him… for without faith we cannot please God …as we progress by faith we will find to our surprise that there are no “whys” places to be found along that old tried and beaten wise path!

    To put it very simply, when we do or say what God calls us to do or say… it will always be a question of whether/what I am doing or saying is right… and not why did I do this or “why did I say that?”…and yes, when we incline to do … not what God wants us to do but what we want to do… “we should reverse, revise, or re-allocate what we are thinking about”.

  2. SFDBWV says:

    A bit of learned advice….Why’s will discourage and strain your faith. I said strain not exercise.

    Why do I pray? As some of you may be suprised to learn it is not to get my way. God has taught me well that, that ain’t gonna happen.

    No I pray to please and connect to God. A way for me to express my trust that HE hears me.
    Then I leave my petitions at HIS feet, forgotten until my next encounter with HIM. I feel better after a good prayer.

    As far as motives are concerned, all motives are self serving. That is if you look for a motive.

    Even if we say we are wanting only to be in God’s total will. It is because we want to please God, a self serving motive.

    There are “things” we can do without being selfish. We can love and by loving even pity others and so help them because they need help. No other reason. If we offer help only after self examination as to why we are making the offer, we have most certainly entered a realm of paranoia.

    The world ain’t about me, so every decision I make need not be about me.

    Doing right should have no other motive than it’s being the right thing to do.

    Uncomplicate your life and just trust that God is in control and be led and fed by HIM.


  3. poohpity says:

    The person who receives the charity does benefit and they do not care what the motive is behind it unless something is given then asked to do something back in return. So it is very important to think about the motive behind the giving. Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves”. Phil 2:3.

    It is easy to tell if someone is doing something to benefit themselves because there may be signs of wanting the person who is being helped to be dependent on the giver. Some controlling people want the glory or want to be recognized for their sacrifice. Sometimes there is anger because the person being helped is not doing what the givers wants. Our example is Jesus that although being the very nature of God did not hold to that but became a servant even unto death on the Cross. So it is very beneficial to look at the motive it will help with our hearts not turning hard and resentful.

  4. HEY REV says:

    Hello again:
    I was not going to touch this one because it is a very deep subject that has many paths. When two people are in agreement to be accountable to each other for a length of time (James 5:16) each situation will have it’s own merit. I can do most of the right things (or at least it looks that way)
    in a given account, but than the next one I don’t do very well. The next 2-3 accounts look good again, and than back to not looking so good.Because I’m human I can fail. Do I put value on percentages and than which ones are the good ones, and of course there are the others.
    Paul himself shares that with us in Romans chapter seven starting around verse 14 to 25
    “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” I really want to do it right but sometimes I fail after it over. Why?? That was not my desire.
    Now of course that is not a quote of those verses but my own words about myself paraphased. I will stand alone before God on that day. and answer for all. Do I want to hear: “well done good a faithful servant, come and enter, etc. Sure I do. No one should want otherwise.
    When some sat in my office and said: I know my motive was right. It just didn’t come out that way.Motives are necessary, but it’s the action (deed) afterwards that will decide.
    When I first became God’s child my first verse I learned to quote, was I John 1:7
    “If I confess my sin He is faithful ahd just to forgive me, and cleanse me from ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. To me that meant ALL.
    I confessed EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING and after a awhile He showed me, “YOUR FORGIVEN NOW LET’S MOVE ON” If I kept my mind on those now past sins than I was not forgetting those things that lie behind and presing on to that mark He has for me to accomplish. But I didn’t do well for some time. I kept them on my mind and fought with those thoughts afterwards. It took up so much time I had a hard time hearing what God wanted me to do next. Satan seemed to always remind me; “What you call that a good motive?

    Like many already said above me (rdcomp—
    daisymarygoldr—poohpity—SFDBWV said a line I believe and teach. Many whys (and sometimes un-thought motives) will put strains, discouragements and drain you. I found that out to many times.
    The ONLY THING TO REMEMBER IS GOD KNOWS OUR HEART. Just leave it at that. Trust Him to guide and direct us (which we cannot do without Him anyway) He wants us to prosper for His Honor and Glory.
    There were times when I thought I failed but He knew I didn’t, and of course just the opposite. Just move on. Lingering on the now past encounter will take up to much precious time.
    If I failed He will give me another try, and another, and another, etc.
    I love it.
    HANG IN THERE SAINTS His Grace is bigger than we could ever think.


  5. JeanB says:

    Wow! What you’ve written, Mart, is so inline with Rick Warren’s “40 days of community”, which I have just embarked upon. We will be studying 1 Cor 13 in detail to discover what love is really all about. I was oddly surprised, to find that what matters most to God is LOVE.

    [Rick Warren on 1 Cor 13]
    If I don’t live a life of love:
    1. Noting I say will matter.
    2. Nothing I know will matter.
    3. Nothing I believe will matter.
    4. Nothing I give will matter.
    5. Nothing I accomplish will matter.

    Now on to exploring (and putting to practice) what REAL love is, because God IS love and in Jesus we are His children. We can only do this “in community” though, so thanks to you all for sharing!

  6. Mart De Haan says:

    Paul urged Timothy to urge followers of Christ “not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers” (2Tim 2:14). So it’s important to allow for the fact that we may be saying the same thing using different words.

    But since the words we are using could leave the impression that some of us are starting out far apart on this one, I hope we can keep talking about this until the fog clears.

    It sounds like some of us are saying that when it comes to following Christ there is no profit in asking “why” we are doing something… only in doing what we have been told to do (the right thing).

    I must be hearing wrong because that sounds like a faith without heart… or a faith that is rooted only in the authority of God… i.e. do the what because He told us to do it… Anything more than that wears us down and out.

    Please show me what I’m missing.

  7. cherielyn says:

    Addressing the opening paragraph: Some years ago, when my children were small and we were Christmas shopping, one of my children spotted a homeless man pushing a shopping cart down the street, presumably filled with all of his worldly possessions. Another of them asked if we could do something to help him. I let them make the decision what to do to help and they decided that we should buy him a meal at a fast food restaurant just down the street. We went and bought the meal, then went back to find him and gave it to him. He seemed very grateful and had tears in his eyes.

    Looking back, I realize that while we may have helped him with his immediate physical needs, but I/we dropped the ball by not taking the time to address his spiritual needs and I feel ashamed for having missed so great an opportunity.

    My computer had to go in a 3rd time and I did not have the opportunity to let anyone here know that I would again be offline for awhile. When it finally came back my daughter had arrived with my future son-in-law and his mother and I didn’t have much time to check, so I’m just now catching up on previous blogs & posts.

    Mtman: You asked for an update on my son, Mike (I think 5/21/09 post). He had tests which proved inconclusive, so we have more questions than answers right now. He will be having surgery for hiatal & umbilical hernias next Thursday which had to be postponed in March due to illness. After he recovers from that he will have a further followup about the possible dementia. Thanks for thinking of him & asking.

  8. Wesley says:

    It’s way beyond just possible to take the right path when you find yourself in a WHY situation,Its take’n me practically my whole life to realize that when were confronted with a WHY,theres only one prerequisite that we must first learn to exhibit in our minds & hearts. That would be unconditional Love for each other as Jesus,from the father has done for and with us. My parents were Blessed with a large family,I grew up in a small house with 5 brothers & 2 sisters,well,one of the middle brothers,Donald,was born saverely mentally challenged.I never,ever thought for once that God somehow was trying to punish anyone,but I was always trying to figure out WHY he allows it to take place. Well after a lifetime of falling down personally,and not always living the right way,trying to do it my way,which never works,I FINALLY decided to read the instructions,I’ve always dabbled in the Bible,growing up in a Chatholic church etc. But now it was time to walk the walk,it got tireing slamming into dead-ends. Over a period of around 10 years with inspiration from a wonderfull God fearing new freind I met,Mary,who herself has mentall illness….Bi-polar,I with her love and understanding,learned more about my brother then I would have without her. I came to realise that God is foremost all about Love,kindness,forgivness,unrelentless Blessings,and much more… God places people like my brother on this earth,and I’m not sure how to say this,but to me, it’s almost like us so called normal people are to see through & in there spirits struggles in day to day liveing,just wanting to get through, we are kinda of force fed Gods wonderfull ways,that are absolutely needed to help these types of individuals,and I mean all this in a good way,I would’nt trade my Brother or freind Mary for nothing,when I use to think Donald got a bad break in Life,then realised,wait a minute,my Brother is gonna see the real Mc-Coy! He’s gonna actually see GOD himself! Blessed are the pure at Heart,for they SHALL see GOD…. so get with the program people,don’t be shy,God will always show you how to help out, there really is’nt a wrong way to do it if you always know that,and this is me again,maybe right? maybe wrong….Your words and actions define your heart,the motives will define your Soul,You can’t hide the motives from the one who matters. Hope I did’nt offend any one, Gods word is unwavering,he does’nt want you to try and spin-it in your favor, thats what the master of lies wants you to do, That Clown is always ready to pounce,he’s got me many times good,now If I think about go’n off Gods path for any self serving gratification B.S. I try and look at the end result first,kinda like sizeing up a holes lay-out in Golf,start at the green and go in reverse for a good result,Thanks to God for letting me Post,and If you can find it in your Hearts, PLEASE say a Prayer for my freind Mary,One of Gods children,like all of us are,Gods got my brothers back,big time, Mary can really use all of our prayers,THANK-YOU ALL……

  9. refump says:

    Does this mean that if I am not a cheerful giver then I should refrain from giving? I have always felt that examining why we do what we do is important but as several of you have pointed out it is important not to sit & beat ourselves up when we admit our motives are not pure. To move on with the prayer asking God to change us seems to be the way to go. Only He can make our motives right. I can’t seem to will myself to be a cheerful giver or will myself to be hungry for the Word. That has to come for the Holy Spirit within me & He can only do His work in me when I first face up to & admit my true motive is not right & realize my inability to change myself. I liked what SFDBWV said about why we pray. This is exactly what Oswald Chambers seems to say in his book “If You Will Ask”.We pray to connect with God & connecting to God allows Him to work His work in us to make us more like Him.

  10. wretch-like-me says:

    Excellent discussion topic! Well stated, briefly worded and challenging us first to think before responding.

    My first response was to ‘sound off before consulting God’; however, after ‘falling back and regrouping’ I checked my own thoughts against HIS Word. (wish I would practice that more in direct ‘tongue to tongue’ combat)

    Here’s what I found:

    1. Beware the tendency to judge the motives of others!
    “…God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
    1 Samuel 16:7b

    2. Beware the tendency to excuse your own actions with out self examination!
    “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,But the LORD weighs the hearts.” Proverbs 21:2

    3. We were advised to ‘judge a tree by its fruit’.
    “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” Luke 6:45

    4. However, Paul warns of being so focused on motive that it paralyzes action and causes strife within the body of Christ.
    “For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

    Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” 1 Corinthians 4:4-6

    5. Lastly, each of us should seek close communion with God thru Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to develop a heart like David.
    “He (God) testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
    “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.” Acts 13:22b-23

    Final thought:
    This is certainly my foremost prayer to God (right after confession/cleansing). “Develop in me a Clean Heart, O God…A heart that seeks to do your Will!!!”

    Huggs To All

  11. poohpity says:


    A Meerkat is a good example of motive. It seems that everybody in the group has a job and there are so many yet they work together their focus is the group and staying alive. Unknown whether this is done with a selfish attitude or with the thought of the whole group.

    In scripture many times it says God wants us to get to know Him and show mercy and justice to others. He does not want our sacrifices He wants us to know Him. If we are giving and doing without a cheerful heart then it is drudgery and we resent it. I think that the closer we get to God our heart fills with compassion for others but sometimes that compassion turns to rules to follow to earn something whatever it may be. When it turns to rules just as HEY REV says 1 John 1:9 confess it. If we are examining our motives I believe that will give us less time to judge someone else’s motives. We are only responsible for our own response to God.

    If we are busy staying close to God and following the example given us by Jesus that will keep us busy doing the will of God with a pure heart. Now a days there are so many doing things for self and not considering anyone else it is a good time to consider even our motive for following Jesus.

  12. SFDBWV says:

    Frank has done such an excellent job in answering Mart, I feel I feel a little intimidated in saying anything else. But being me, I will anyway.

    I am a little confused about what the entire subject. Shouldn’t our hearts be instantly spured to come to the aid of another, without self examination as to why we are helping another human being?

    If we have surrendered our will to God, wouldn’t God’s will be instilled in our hearts? Wouldn’t it be an automatic responce to do what is right without the process of woundering what is our motive behind my doing the “right” thing?

    Paying tithes is a thought out action. First deciding to because God said it is what he expects from us, secondly realising that in doing so we help the work of the Gospel and yes lastly it helps us. There could be said a motive behind paying tithes.

    To feed the hungry, clothe the poor, ease the load of another, to comfort the hurting, to give time to a friend or just listen to the brokenhearted; these things should only have one motive….the helping of another in need.

    Personaly I can’t imagine hesitating to come to the aid of another, to first wounder why I am. I am sorry that just makes no sense at all.

  13. poohpity says:

    It doesn’t mean to stop doing something kind to think about motive. It means as an overall thought to consider our actions. There are those that do things as Mart and Paul talked about that have motives that are not right. If that were not the case then Paul would have never written about it. Even when people write on this blog they may have motives of self edification. This is something to consider in all we do is it because we love God or for another reason. There is nothing wrong with looking at the reasons we do stuff actually it is very interesting to look at our motives it can and will cause us to grow in grace and the knowledge of God and our relationship with Him. If we never looked at our actions or motives how will we ever determine when we sin to ask for forgiveness.

  14. Rick123 says:

    Compassion, mercy, justice, are born from a pure heart. Who’s heart is rooted and grounded in the love that gave it all on the Cross. This all surpassing love comes from the Father of all comfort, who comforts our hearts with his love.

    Love is not proud.
    Love does not showoff.
    Love is not self seeking.
    Love is not rude.
    Love does not keep record of offences.
    Love is not unwise.
    Love is not bitter.

    Love overcomes sin.
    Love is where God is, and where love is not, God is not there.
    Love overcame satan on the Cross.
    Love can not be measured, for it has always been.
    Love’s eternal weight was seen on the Cross.
    Love shed it’s blood on the Cross and magnified the throne of the Highest.

    Nothing in creation can compare to Love, for it upholds all of creation in it’s hands, which hands shed it’s blood on the Cross.

  15. sjd says:

    I agree with some of you that we do not want to get obsessed with trying to figure out the why, but I do not think that is what Mart is implying. It is easy to say, our actions should be out of love, but as we looked at the issue of pride in the past(see The Great Imposter post), it rears it’s head in so many ways without our realizing it. We do things with the wrong motives.

    I find the best way of examining myself is placing myself before the living Word of God, and let the Spirit and the Word do the discerning. Then submitting to the Spirit of Jesus within me to do what I can not do on my own with the right motives. Seems like all my righteousness is like filthy rags. Living by faith is my main priority, and along the way, reexamination of my motives, my dependence or not on Christ, is beneficial. That drifting to depend on my own righteousness seems to be inevitable.

    Just wanted to thank those that have been praying for Jim. He is nearing death, probably within the next one to two weeks. He just assured me that last week He trusted in Jesus. We had a neat time of prayer together as he firmly gripped my hand and we look forward to the Hope we have in Christ. It was a great conversation! With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible!

  16. HEY REV says:

    Well I’m back. Sent a blog earlier and in less than 24 hours God thought me another lesson on this subject. Will make it as short as possible.
    Wife was making a turkey meal (with all the trimings) today Saturday. WE talked 3-4 days ago about who we should invite over to shar with us.
    First time we couldn’t seem to agree on anyone so we gave it the the Lord.
    Got turkey into oven and left the house to run some errands. She saw a garage sale so we had to stop of course. I believe in the understanding “Happy Wife, Happy Life”
    AS I looked around my wife was having a conversation with the man havong the sale. Lost his job two weeks ago and had time to findly have this sale. My wife said we had to leave to check the turkey. She asked him if he would like some and he said yes. Just before we left to take it to him I called to see which color meat he prefered. White.

    We delivered and as I drove down the street the verse that came to mind: “WHEN YOU GIVEN TO THE LEAST OF THESE YOU’VE GIVEN TO ME.”
    Hey No thoughts, No motives, No why’s, No thinking about rewards, No right thing, No wrong thing, etc. Just do it.

    I try and follow Eccl 9:10a as much as possible ‘WHATEVER YOU FIND YOUR HANDS TO DO, DO IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT.

    Picked up a guy with thumb out looking for a ride. (this was many, many years ago)
    Knew I shouldn’t pick him up but he looked ok. (now that I remember I didn’t even pray before hand, and oh yes I know it’s against the law. No slap on the hand please thanks)
    Said his car would not start, just got this job, and didn’t want to lose it.Felt good about it, and we had small conversation. Took him right to his door and continued to work. Shared with God that I felt bad because I didn’t witness to him (which I do at the drop of a hat) Had no tracts in the car, and my Bible was in the back seat, no coffee yet, and tired. All excuses I know.

    In a SOFT, TENDER, LOVING voice God said:
    WOW I didn’t need coffee now.

    I follow a teaching given me many moons ago from my Savior. Chew on this and if it speaks to you swallow it, if not spit it out.
    Jesus speaking: SON,

    God Bless all of you for your desire to follow, please, and love Him, and He will Bless because He loves you.
    Hey Rev

  17. SFDBWV says:

    Deborah, In a hostile combat situation, we are taught to react first. Training and practice prepares us for that instant reaction. Hesitation will cost yourself or anothers life.

    After the battle is over there is time for reflection.

    If the topic of motives and why, is dwelling on reflection, then I can to some degree understand the concern.

    If we only do what God wants of us, to someway be rewarded, we have not gotten the point Christ tried to teach. We are still only thinking of ourselves.

    However when the battle of good over evil comes to our door, we have not the time to consider our motives before taking action against the foe. Hesitation will come with a price.

    The total surrender to God of our motives of our desires, the practice and training of our faith prepares us.

    The luxury of afterthought and reflection comes after action and prepares us for the next act.


  18. sjd says:

    I agree that trying to figure out why, when I feel called to do something, is not the time. I am trying to be more responsive to God’s leading, trying to be available at all times, not just after I figure out why I am doing it. “Blind” obedience to our Savior is good I believe.

    But as Steve mentions reflection is beneficial. Our time with Christ in His Word prepares our hearts. It is at those times that my motives may be uncovered.

  19. Mart De Haan says:

    Maybe we can say with Solomon, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecc 3:1). There is a time to reflect on motives and a time not to think about them.

    What I’m wondering is to what extent you see faith, hope, and love as motives? And whether, in this discussion, you think that’s a significant question?

  20. SFDBWV says:

    I can see love as a motive, but not faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1}

    Hope? Can hope be a motive? Yes, I think it can, but as I stated earlier, it is a selfish desire. Even placed in an area whereby I hope to see good win out over evil, the motive becomes a personal desire to have my way.

    In surrendering my will to God, I place all trust in God to do the “right” thing, even at my expense. Only through that surrender can my flesh be crucified with Christ.

  21. poohpity says:

    If we are at a point in our faith that we die to self, then the love of Christ permeates us and we trust the outcome to Him. That is our hope. This to me is a daily process. Faith, hope and love are all gifts from God and that is our motivation.

  22. poohpity says:

    Jesus is more concerned about our heart issues which is faith, hope and love.

  23. daisymarygoldr says:

    If we are doing what God is calling us to do…i.e. to “Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself”, then there is no need to examine our motives because the only motive is the love of God.

    Love for God is not merely in words but should be expressed in our “obedience”. Love for our neighbor is not merely caring for their physical needs but we should obey our commission to care and provide for the spiritually (hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and imprisoned).

    Now… if someone is doing what God is not calling them to do… or their prime motive for preaching the Gospel is an impure motive or tainted w/ false love … i.e. to make a monetary profit or some other selfish ambition as seen in the case of false teachers or false prophets… then they should certainly stop to examine and ask “why”… because though they professed to be Christians and served in the name of Christ, He will not recognize them or their works “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”.

    So Mart, I am not disagreeing with what you have said… what I’m trying to say here is this:
    If we are serving Jesus and not our own personal agendas there is no room for doubt or guilt or fear of failing the “testing by fire” … even if others accuse us of false motives…like Paul we can continue boldly and not worry about self-examination… because we know that it is God who sees the hidden intent of our hearts and will reward us openly someday in the future.

    Paul did just that… and also counseled Timothy to “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is “right”… for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.” 1 Tim4:16

    So, IMHO if we watch our teaching, and not forget the main focus… that which is central to our life and calling: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then some day in the future we will hear our Lord say this:

    “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you “obeyed” my word and did not deny me… Because you have “obeyed” my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of “testing” that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world” (Rev 3: 8 & 10)!

  24. daisymarygoldr says:

    Sorry, no more thinking for me…. on faith and hope since I am literally brain dead now, after spending almost the entire wknd on thinking about the motive of love… it sort of covers faith and hope too…

  25. daisymarygoldr says:

    Wesley, Thank you for sharing! Praying for your friend Mary…

    cherielyn, You are a blessed mother and your daughter and soon-to—be son-in-law and Mike are in my prayers…

    Steve/sjd, thanks for the update on Jim. It is sad… but I’m glad that he is trusts Jesus and is looking forward to His hope in Christ!

    Since Spelling Bee was mentioned… I thought it is interesting to note that the winning word that clinched the title was “Laodicean” which means lukewarm….

  26. saled says:

    Faith, hope and love can overcome and replace our selfish motives. Are they motives? Interesting question. Because of my faith, I sometimes do the hard thing instead of the easy thing, such as giving up my time to myself to help someone else. Hope that God has a plan for me that is better than my plan helps me to do the hard thing. Maybe love is the ultimate motive, and then we can discuss what is love. Why did Jesus lay down his life for us? Why does a mother lay aside her career for her children? When we practice love because of our faith it is with the hope that we will gain more than we give. Is this selfish? Not if what we are hoping to gain is life and love for ourselves and others.

  27. sjd says:

    Just got back from a study on Hebrews 11. I was impressed how the hope of what was to come was such an important part of their life of faith!

    Even Joseph in giving his directions for where to place his bones was an act of faith based on his hope in God.

    Faith that God will fulfill His promises is the hope we can enjoy. This hope motivates me along with the love of Christ that constrains/compels/controls me. And the faith that God gives me, makes it all possible for me to enjoy, as I offer myself to Him for His glory.

    Faith, hope and love are so tied together. I am thankful God has given all three for me and each of us in Christ to enjoy!

  28. kaliko88 says:

    Yes, I agree. There is a time to think and a time to just do. I constantly question my motives in almost everything. Slowly, though, I’m learning to use it instead of letting it block me from getting the work done. It can be dangerous so I try to balance as best I can. Otherwise I would hide away all the time. I don’t necessarily mind the self examination, though, as long as I talk to God about it, too. I figure it’s His way of teaching me about myself.

    I don’t want to just act automatically, though, or out of mere obedience. Yes, I want to do God’s will, I want to please Him. But questioning my motives keeps me looking around, not just at myself, but at those around me. Without questioning, I think I’d blind myself to what God is trying to show me. I just keep thinking that there is a balance to achieve through it all, and many things to learn through the process. Sometimes it isn’t and/or, it’s both/all.

    This whole conversation on motive has me thinking of Uriah Heep from “David Copperfield”. To this day he is the most frightening character I have ever encountered. Weird.

  29. SFDBWV says:

    Mart thinking of why and motive….Why be a believer at all? What motivates any of us to follow God? To follow Christ?

    It can’t be because we all have good health, a long life filled with prosperity and constantly having our way in every matter. Because that just isn’t the way of things.

    Is it because we fear hell?

    If we didn’t think that there was an existance beyond this life, why fear eternity?

    In the beginning of believing,the motive becomes a selfish concern for our wellbeing.

    We then extend that concern to others as we love others and want also for them to be “covered”.

    It is said that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom….the beginning.

    Motives and why is a doorway to very exhaustive self searching, but the answer will always be a self serving journey of discovery.

    Only when to ourself we don’t matter at all (self dies), only doing the will of God matters and that transfers to caring for each other by giving unconditional love.

    Then our motives are the wellbeing of others, from their physical needs to their spiritual ones.

    Why? Because God wants it to be so, and His nature has bonded with our nature and so His desires become our desires.

  30. Mart De Haan says:

    SFDBWV, I think you’ve captured the process that can bring us to the end of ourselves and to renewed appreciation for the Spirt, grace, and cross of Christ.

    Because all have been created in the image of God, there is lingering, though damaged, conscience that enables even those outside of Christ to sense the honor of being motivated by more than self-interest.

    In Christ, we have the Spirit of God within us who enables us to sense the rightness of living for the purpose of trusting God, to put our hope in him, and to care for the needs of others.

  31. Mart De Haan says:

    kaliko88, when you get a chance, I wish you’d give us just a couple of sentences about the connection you see with Uriah Heep…

  32. mtman says:

    I have not been on this site for a few days. It seems to me by questioning our motives and wanting to know the why of everything we do does nothing but indirectly erode our faith.
    Isn’t that what Satan does, gets us to question our motives, why we do what we do and make an opening for doubt? From reading all the posts it seems that to even ask us to examine our motives for doing good deeds is an attempt to create doubt.
    Self examination is good for us if it brings us closer to our Lord but to probe our motives seems to be aimed to undermine our faith. I see some posts that indicate they have done the right thing but now question if they “really did enough”. Not somewhere I prefer to go because there is never enough. We do what we do and should not doubt or question why we did it. We will be judged for what we do good and bad one day. To question why takes us down a very dangerous path right to the door of the devil in my opinion.

  33. raywillie says:

    Mart, I have to think that our motives are a true reflection of our beliefs. If we do something, no matter how “good” it is, for our own gratification, are we not travelling the path of good works versus belief that our Savior has already paved the way as long as we believe in His saving sacrifice? Your comments are very apropos.


  34. Mart De Haan says:

    That makes a lot of sense to me. But what I think is happening is that Chambers is urging us to have the motive purpose of “believing” God and even abandoning ourselves to him. I cannot conceive of this happening without a longing desire (purpose/motive/intent/prayerful longing).

    At some point I think we are talking around different ways of describing what is in a heart that is pursuing Christ.

  35. Mart De Haan says:

    mtman, You’re right. We can push the “motive” thing too far.

    “Too far”– seems to me– is “condemning ourselves” rather than looking at our hearts with a desire to connect with the heart and Spirit of God.

    The healthy point of looking at motives is not to discover “wrong purposes” but to make sure we are getting the “lift” of right desires… i.e. to trust, hope, and love in/with God.

    Is there anything more freeing and energizing than to sense consciously that “we love him (why?) because he first loved us”. Or we give ourselves to him/or others (why?) because he first gave himself to us.

  36. dependent says:

    Examining our motives seems to me the necessary by-product of our ongoing sanctification.

    Are we all not on a journey to become more like Christ?

    And as we follow our Perfect Model, the word of God–illuminated by the Holy Spirit–reveals truth in our innermost parts. And that light, shining on our hearts, often reveals the ugly side of our motives. The loving correction hopefully brings us to repentence and another step closer to unity with the motive and nature of our Lord. To become more like Christ is the way we glorify God. And until we meet face-to-face and our sanctification is complete, there will always be the need for the loving correction of the Potter as he shapes us into his image.

    And since our humility and obedience are critical to being pliable, I don’t see how we can avoid the introspection that brings us to a confrontation with (perhaps previously unrecognized) flaws in our motivation.

    I’m very thankful for the grace and mercy of God, who chose a process of growing up in Christ. As a babe in Christ, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about my motives and the extent of fleshly desire that war against the spirit. After years of maturing in Christ, I must humbly admit that I still do not know what I do not yet know. But my Lord is faithfully leading me, and correcting me and has a intimately personal plan for bringing me closer to the image of God–closer to motives that are pure and pleasing to Him (internally) and the resulting fruit that brings glory to Him (externally).

    I should be more and more motivated by that “hope of glory” in this age and the age to come. I LOVE Him because He chose me to be conformed to the image of His son. And it is that HOPE that sustains me through the sufferings and groanings of this age. It is by FAITH that I lay hold this seemingly impossible future–to be one with Christ, fully enveloped in his glory. [Rom 8]

    1Jn 3:2-3 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

    2Co 3:16-18 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

  37. wretch-like-me says:

    Dear Ones:
    Let us not forget that we can do nothing to ‘earn’ His love or forgiveness or salvation.
    We are as little children trying to please our Father in Heaven.

    I remember my own little children doing their best to please me with a meal on Father’s Day many years ago.
    The burnt toast ‘overloaded’ with peanut butter, ‘lacquer-edged’ eggs and ‘uncertain’ coffee were the ‘best I had ever tasted’ because they were doing their best to serve and please me.

    Is it not so with our heavenly Father?

    Is Self-examination by its very nature self-serving?

    The answer lies deep within our heart.

    I think Paul hints at the danger when he speaks of risking losing his own soul while seeking to bring others to Christ.
    “…a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

    Motive rules over practice.

  38. poohpity says:

    It seems there is a problem from some about self examination. If we were never to look inside we would have never realized we needed a savior. If we were to never have looked inside we would have never realized we have done wrong and needed forgiveness. If we would have never looked inside we would have never realized we needed love.

    We are not robots who just obey commands we have a motive for everything we do. It would be nice to say that we act and live with love in our hearts and act on that but we do not. It would be nice to say that our every move is a direct reflection of the prompting of the Holy Spirit but it is not. The bible directs us to look inside and understand ourselves then we are slow to look at others. It is healthy to come to an understanding of what makes us tick not to put ourselves down but to understand who we are compared to Christ.

  39. su says:

    This has me thinking. As I do so, I too think of a child, when the discussion of motives / the why question arise but I also reflect on obedience.

    How are children to behave toward their parents? And what about the other way around. This reminds me of how I may have heard that Michelle Obama said her mother was very open to her inquiries and how that played an important role in her growth. We are not to lord our authority over those we oversee. And children will ask, some much.

    What also came to mind was, how does God describe Himself? Does He need to?

    I don’t have any conclusive answers. But I add that we are, at times, encouraged to take heed to ourselves, to discern motives and to obey.

    Faith, Hope and Love play into our beliefs. And we are children of God, but also friends, heirs, and then some!

    Finally, a Righteous God manifested Love.

    Sorry, I’ve been out for awhile. I’ve missed you. I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be able to connect but if you want to comment directly to me and are not sure I’ll read your post, Mart is welcome to contact me via email.

    I love seeing your interactions and care for each other!

  40. su says:

    Oh, I wanted to add that it does seem that motive (which, hopefully, is to please God) trumps practise, for what are we without Love?

    And, when I first read the article, but was not able to comment, initially I thought when God/Jesus is preached, He/His name alone is powerful. And whether for Him or not, this is the case.

  41. su says:

    I don’t have time to look back but whoever suggested to read the RBC devotional My Utmost For His Highest, whew! Very applicable. And Our Daily Bread for today also ties into this discussion.

  42. mtman says:

    Mart: I think I agree with you in part and respectfully disagree in part. I sent a reply earlier but our internet went out so someone out there in cyber space read it.
    To far to me means that if we get someone with less than lock solid faith thinking about questioning themselves it could tend to erode what faith they do have. Those who are rock solid may briefly reflect on the why, or did I do enough, but they will leave the result to to Lord and move on. Someone with insecure faith may dwell in an area that is best left to the Lord to deal with. That could tend to destroy those little faith builders that we enjoy from time to time, due to indecision.
    We are all at different places in our walk with the Lord. Because we are all different we handle things differently. To put why’s in the path of someone struggling on that path might not be good.
    When I do self examination it is to determine where I need to work on my walk of faith. For someone else that could land them in self doubt and whether they are adequate.
    In your last paragraph you say: ” Or we give ourselves to him/or others (why?) because he first gave himself to us.
    I think or at least hope you typed that hasty. He gave himself ‘for’ us, not to us.” If He gave Himself to us that would indicate we are possibly greater than He is. That is essentially what the New Age movement teaches, that we can be equal to God. I’m hopeful that was a mistake made in haste. We give ourselves to Him, not the other way around.
    Am I right?

  43. kaliko88 says:

    Sometimes, Mart, I’m not sure I understand it myself. Ideas suggest themselves during discussions and I can’t always put it into words because I’m still thinking it out. But, self-examination and motives are one of those sets of paths that is foggy and so easily lead in the wrong direction. Uriah Heep, to me, is one of the frighteningly clear examples, though imaginary, of someone who was taught a good lesson on humbleness and over a great deal of time twisted it into something utterly evil. That’s what frightens me, because it was such a gradual distortion, and whether I want to admit the possibility or not, it could even happen to me, or any of us.

    That’s why I try to strive for a proper balance. I don’t want to use self-examination as an excuse or a weapon against myself. But I don’t want to always just do the right thing without understanding it. I’m still having a hard time putting this into words, but I think I am becoming more aware of some hidden flaws that can be introduced into even the most righteous thoughts and actions, and lead us slowly astray. That’s what Satan likes to do, many times, act subtly, quietly, and with slight nudges.

    I dunno, this whole conversation just seems to be setting of some red flags for me, but I’m going to have to think about it more to really figure out what’s bothering me about it.

  44. Mart De Haan says:

    Mtman, I understand your point. And yes, I meant he gave himself “for us”.

    kaliko88, thanks for the explanation. I agree that the interest in motives can be misused (1) if we try to judge the motives of others, (2) if we condemn ourselves or become spiritually discouraged by recognizing our self-centeredness, or (3) if we proudly think we really know or understand our own motives.

    At the same time, being concerned about whether we are trying to trust the Lord, put our hope in him, or reflect his love to others seems so basic to a relationship with him.

  45. bubbles says:

    Thank you, Mart, for all of your hard work to keep this site going. I really appreciate your thoughts and comments. I enjoy coming to this site because it causes me to think and think and think. . . :)

    Like kaliko88 said, this topic has really caused me to ponder motives deeply. This has brought me to tears several times during the past few days. (and prayer too)

    Mart, what was said earlier about being ‘worn down’was a comment about the draining nature of my job. The end of the school year is looming, and I’m just drained out like an empty bottle. I’m sorry if that came across as a complaint. If I wasn’t drained, I’d feel like I hadn’t don the best job I could’ve done.

    It seems like many people have blogged about doing things because they want to please our Lord. Dr. Bob Jones said, “It’s always right to do right, because it is right”. I taught this to my students, but added ‘and it pleases God’.

    I’m sure all of us want to please those we love. If I love someone, I strive to do things that will please them out of love. So, then, if we are doing things to please Him, doesn’t this come from a heart filled with love? When I do the laundry, clean, or fold towels, it’s a job to do, but it’s done to care for the home where loved ones live–taking care of them because they are loved.

    Although, there are other motives, but just a thought about doing things without always thinking about the ‘whys’.

  46. wretch-like-me says:

    I had a thought about the difference between mindful action and mindless action.

    Most of us know the illustration from scripture of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. When Jesus visited Mary chose to sit at His feet while Martha worked herself into a frazzle over the ‘fixin’s.

    Sadly, I have fallen into the same trap by trying at all costs to please my spouse or family by preparing the ‘perfect’ widget only to have it sour when I explode from taking on too much stress.

    Had I thoughtfully acted (after self examination), I’d have chosen to do less and enjoy more the ‘time’ I had to play with my family rather than ‘DO SOMETHING SPECIAL JUST FOR THEM’. (I confess I placed more value in sacrificing my labor rather than invest my time…)

    Sometimes, God just wants us to spend time with HIM rather than be busy DOING all sorts of things in our labor of ‘love’. (oddly enough, the more time we spend with Him, the less likely we are to fall into the trap.)

    Am I connecting with anyone out there?

    I am not promoting slothfulness or that we should spend copious amounts of time ‘pondering our navels’…
    just the opposite, I agree with an earlier comment that we should strive to develop a well-rounded approach and in all things seek balance.

  47. mtman says:

    Thanks Mart: Once again we are on the same page but both took different routes to get there. Funny how that works like that.

  48. kaliko88 says:

    They are basic to someone who starts there. They are not basic to someone who is having to unlearn a lot of wrong habits and lessons, and who is still letting go of the chains of sin. There is some truth to the thought that you have to be able to love and trust, even love and trust yourself, in order to love and trust the Lord. It’s a long road back from the other extreme.

  49. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    WLM You connected here. I see this subject as mostly about surrender. The more we are surrendered to God the more likely we are to be in His will. Praying always for His guidance in all we undertake. I am not saying I have came even near perfection in this area but I do know God is my teacher. I do seem to be a slow learner but He is so patient and kind. When my why’s get out of His will He finds a way to show me and grow me to do better.

    I have thought of David when he counted the men and the result of that action.as I have read the post here on this subject. David was definitely out of God’s will and his why he did what he did was wrong. However God didn’t leave him. He showed him his error and set his feet back on the right path. God is awesome in His faithfulness.

  50. jlujan69 says:

    The problem is that we could become so obsessed with having the right motivations before we do the right thing that we end up doing nothing instead. In effect, we’ve become so “heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good”. Charity begins somewhere. It may be better for the Christian to “just do it” and pray for the right motivations to catch up rather than sit on his laurels, determining to do good only when he can be certain his motives are pure. Trust God to work out the kinks in our lives.

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