January 3, 2014
Unmixing Our Motives
I'll never forget when mixed motives almost killed my true calling. Soon after accepting a leadership position in the women's ministry of my church, a friend on the team came up to me. "Oh! We forgot to tell you," she said with a grin. "You're in charge of the annual women's conference."
Despite the surprise, I loved every minute of organizing the event. But as I interacted with our guest speaker, envy began to wind itself around my heart. If it could have spoken aloud, it would have said, "I want THAT!"
I wanted her platform.
I wanted her eloquence.
I wanted her audience.
I wanted her cute outfit.
Fortunately, I recognized these "wants" as signs of covetousness rather than signs of my calling. I knew God had called me to be the women's ministry director during that season—not to speak. And each time I desired what that speaker had, it took my focus off what God had for me.
So I asked God to kill the weed of envy that was choking the life from my calling to lead women. I asked Him to purify my motives and steer my heart to the women He had called me to serve.
It's so easy for wrong motives to creep in to our hearts. You might not want to be a speaker, but maybe you're the mom who dresses her children to impress others. Or maybe you're the employee who takes charge of the room to show your boss your readiness for the next step up.
There's nothing wrong with cute children or promotions, but so many times our motives trip us up. Instead of being pure, our motives get mixed with other things that sully the outcome—emotionalism, pride, and strong personal preferences are just a few.
Several years after my prayer to remove my "speaker envy," God started whispering to me about speaking as I prayed and read the Word. My first reaction was to think, "There's that old, nasty envy again. God, purify my heart!"
But this time was different. As I unpacked my motives, I realized God had really changed my heart. He'd refined my motives to just one, and that was to obey Him.
Philippians 2:5 states our ideal position: "Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus" (NIV 1984). Our one motive should be to follow Him and become more like Him. That's the motive that should supersede and reign over any others. How do we practically live that out?
I think the clue is in the following verses. "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Philippians 2:6-7, NIV 1984).
Our focus has to be on becoming nothing. Nothing is not our status or worth. We are always holy and dearly loved children of the King.
Nothing is to be our chosen position as a servant.
How does this look in everyday life? Jesus is our perfect example. He is everything: the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He is so incredibly powerful and important that Colossians 1:16 says "all things were created by him and for him" (NIV 1984). Despite His exalted position, Jesus showed the purity of His motives toward us by giving up all He had.
As I've thought about how to imitate Jesus in my motives, I ask myself two questions when making choices:
• Does this put me or others first?
• Is this a choice to be more or to be nothing?
These two questions expose any twisted motives and bring me back to my chosen position of nothing. Day by day, my motives are refined. It's a painful process sometimes, but it's a good process that ultimately produces pure motives with divine outcomes.
Lord God, You are the only One with uncontaminated motives. I confess mine are often mixed with pride, emotion, or personal opinion. Please purify my heart. Forgive me, un-mix my motives, and help me move forward with a pure heart. Amen.
For more thoughts on cultivating a pure heart, visit Amy Carroll's blog.
Setting our hearts and minds on Christ helps purify our motives from unforgiveness. Join the Proverbs 31 Ministries team of writers in doing this through Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living.
Reflect and Respond:
What decisions are you making today? Are they cluttered by impure motives like unforgiveness, fear, pride, or overwhelming emotions?
Pray and ask God to show you any impure motives that might affect your decision-making, and then ask Him to remove the ones He shows you.
Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me." (ASV)
Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (NIV)
© 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.