Because the human heart is very deceitful, we can easily fool ourselves about our own motives. We can pretend that we are choosing certain actions for God or the benefit of others, when we have selfish reasons. God is not fooled by our selfishness and is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The Bible has a lot to say about my motives. A motive is the underlying reason for any action. Proverbs 16:2 says,
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the MASTER.
So what is the right motivation? First Thessalonians 2:4 says, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (NLT). God is interested in my motives even more than my actions. First Corinthians 4:5 says that, when Jesus comes again,
he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
God’s glory is to be the highest motive of his people: God wants me to know that He sees what no one else sees. He knows why I do what I do and desires to reward those whose hearts are right toward Him. I can keep my motives pure by continually surrendering every part of my heart to the control of the Holy Spirit and seeking His glory.
- 1 Peter 4:11 — Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus the Messiah, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 — Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
- Glory — δόξα doxa — Meaning: glory, honor, renown; an especially divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God, splendor, stunning, beauty, brilliance, amazing. Translation: stunning brilliance and beauty.
- Numbers 25:7–13 — When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand, and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. Those who died by the plague were 24,000. Then the Master spoke to Moses, saying, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. “Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.’ ”
- Isaiah 26:8 — Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Master, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.
- Colossians 3:17 — Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Master Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.