The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive. —Proverbs 20:27
I like to define a motive as “the why behind the what.” A motive is the reason we do what we do. We often say we are doing things for God, but sometimes we do not understand why we do them. We only know what we are doing, but we have not taken the time to truly understand why.
Impure motives can cause many problems, one of which is being overcommitted, which results in unnecessary stress in our lives. Surely we won’t live with extreme stress if we are obeying God and doing only what He wants us to do. Never agree to do something in order to impress people or because you fear what they may think or say about you if you don’t. God wants us to help and bless people, but a “good work” done with a wrong motive is no longer a good work. Don’t say yes with your mouth if your heart is screaming no.
Take the motive test as often as you can. Begin to ask yourself questions that will help you assess your motives, such as:
• Why did I agree to serve on that committee?
• Why did I say I would lead the missions group at church? Do I really have a heart for evangelism and a longing to serve God, or do I want people to talk about what a good church member I am, or am I afraid of what they will say if I do not agree to help?
• Why do I really want that promotion at work so much? Is it motivated by God or worldly ambition?
As you evaluate your motives, you will begin to see what is in your heart. Pass the test by making sure your motives are pure and right before God—even if that means changing the “what.” The motive test is a lifelong test. I frequently reevaluate my motives and discontinue things I find I am doing for the wrong reason, and that helps me keep my priorities in order.
Trust in Him Take a look at why you are doing what you are doing. Trusting God will help you keep your priorities in order and give you the freedom to do only what He wants you to do, which is essential to living a stress-free life.