How quick we are to question the motives of others, yet we are so slow to question our own! When others harm us, we may assume the worst of intentions. When we are guilty, we often excuse our offenses, concluding that others are far too sensitive! Regardless of how we monitor our motives, God weighs them in His scales of righteousness. It is futile to try to deceive God with our pious justifications, for He sees our hearts.
Is it possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason? Of course! You can attend worship services with a heart that is far from worshipful (Isa. 1:10–17). Could you show concern for the poor and yet have a heart that is opposed to God? Judas did (John 12:4–8). Could you make bold statements of love for Christ and actually be aiding the work of Satan? Peter did (Matt. 16:21–23). Could you offer sacrifices to God and be in total disobedience to Him? King Saul did (1 Sam. 13:8–9). Could you pray with the wrong motives? James said you can (James 4:3).
Many things cause us to do what we do. We can be motivated by good things, such as love for God, compassion, generosity, and faith. Or our actions can come from unhealthy motives such as pride, insecurity, ambition, lust, greed, guilt, anger, fear, and hurt. It is even possible to do the best things based on the worst motives. When the Lord measures our motives He looks for one thing: love. All that we do should proceed from our love for God and for others (1 Cor. 13). Take time to look past your actions to what lies behind them. Ask God to show you what He sees when He examines your motives.