One of my heart cries as a young woman was that I would have a pure heart. I wanted to love God well. The result of that was… God revealed the motives of my heart. Whoa. I wasn’t expecting it.
And He dug deep to get to my motives.
Most of us think we know our motives, our why, for doing something. Based on what God has walked me through I can tell you that is not the case. One of my biggest lessons in the hidden motives of my heart came several years ago when I decided to host a large party for my mother’s 60th birthday. I rented a tent, invited dozens of guests, fixed a large Hawaiian spread of Kailua Pig and other fabulous food. We had tiki torches and music. I spent countless hours and lots of money to put on this party for her because I wanted to give her a great birthday.Problem was….my mother didn’t want a big birthday party and she had told me that. I ignored her wishes and assumed that what she really wanted was a big birthday gathering- she just didn’t know it. After the party, she was gracious, and she enjoyed herself as much as possible, but in reality it was very stressful for her. Even though my mother still would have preferred a small dinner at home, I was very proud of myself for pulling off the party. I thought it was a huge success.
It was not until several years later that God showed me how selfish that party was. I didn’t do it for her….I did for ME. In essence I was saying: “Your opinion does not matter here even though it is your birthday. You don’t know what you like. I don’t respect the fact that you prefer small, quiet, intimate gatherings. You are not like me and that’s not ok.”
At the time, I genuinely believed I was righteous. I was hosting this party BECAUSE I had a good heart. Truth is, I wasn’t willing to REALLY look at my motives. For me, it was the best way I could express my love for my mother. At the time it was inconceivable to think there was an ounce of selfishness in what I was doing.
Yet the more I let God peel back the layers of my heart I could no longer deny that I was too occupied with myself to even listen to the desires of my mother. I wanted to impress. I wanted a reason to host a party. I wanted the praise and accolades of good food and a fun time – though I denied it at first. I honestly never believed that was my motivation, and I would have, and did, vehemently denied it.
But that’s the point….I don’t think we understand our real motives because we never take the time to be quiet and let God show us our heart.
When God opened my eyes to my motives in this particular instance it radically changed me. I eventually apologized to her years later and when her 70th birthday came around I listened to her request. Now I have become acutely aware of motives. I am constantly asking God to reveal them to me.
The thing is…when God shows you your heart it’s not always pretty. So I’ve learned a couple of hard lessons:
- Be careful about what you share with others. I made the mistake of sharing my deep, heart struggles with friends – my raw motives – mainly because I have this intense desire to share the things that God teaches me, even if I am still in the middle of my mess. What I learned is that most people, unless they are VERY mature spiritually, they can not handle seeing your raw heart. It makes them uncomfortable.
- You recognize the motives of others. When you get used to understanding your deep motives, you can easily see the motives of others. Discretion is critical because most people are not ready to hear about their motives. In general, we are comfortable living in ignorance of what truly drives us. Be careful what you speak. I have inadvertently called out motives, not to be judgmental, but in casual conversation with fellow Believers, and it was not received well. You know the term, “hit the nail on the head?” well, when you do there is usually a swift, sharp reaction. Ask the Lord to guard your mouth and only speak when He says to. He will prepare hearts to receive truth.
- You become a different person. I don’t know how to explain it. I’m still learning so much, but I can’t get away with any excuses anymore! It is no longer possible to continue in certain behaviors or thought patterns because my spirit pings me whenever my mouth and actions are not in alignment with my motives (that’s called being double-minded). For example, I used to confide in close friends with issues I was dealing with at home, you know, for advice, support, and prayer. I can’t do that anymore. Even if I try, my spirit starts screaming: “You’re only sharing this to make you look like a victim! You want people to feel sorry for you! Stop speaking death and unbelief in your situation and speak out the promises of God!”. Yep – the Holy Spirit is always right when He reveals my true motives.
In the end, I lost all my excuses and forced to purify my heart, which meant dealing with whatever sin my excuses were hiding. In the example above, my excuses were hiding unforgiveness and resentment. With nowhere to turn, I had to face bad attitudes head on. It wasn’t fun, but it has set me free and opened opportunities to dive deeper into the presence of God.
I encourage you to take the time to sit in prayer with the Father ask WHY you do something…and then go beyond that and keep asking WHY until you move past excuses and hit the solid ground of heart motives. You will know it when you get there.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matt. 5:8)