Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 01/24/18

Motives of the Heart


STORY: At the Heart of the Matter

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Did you break them already? They say about 50% of us took time to make them, but only 8% of us actually carry through with them! What seems to be the determining factor for success? I know for me, it all goes back to my motives.

A couple of years ago, I set out to pursue wellness. It wasn’t a diet, it was good nutrition. It wasn’t exercise, it was fitness. The more I focused on the positive outcomes, the more determined and disciplined I became. The results? I was able to go off of insulin, reduce my medications, and overhaul my wardrobe.

I allowed circumstances the last half of 2017 to derail me. Back-to-back-to-back challenges. Hurricane Harvey. An injury that sidelined me from my fitness plan. A multi-state speaking tour. A big move. Inviting my mom to live with us and helping with that transition. By the time the holidays rolled around, I was ready to celebrate.

So, I was eager to embrace 2018 with a renewed passion for my wellness goals. In fact, my phrase for the year is WellBeing/BeingWell. Each Wednesday I will focus on a choice that contributes to my wellbeing.

My actions are determined by my attitudes. My attitudes are determined by my motives. And my motives are shaped by how plugged in I am to God’s purpose for my life. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.

STUDY: What Motivates Me?

Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. (Psalm 26:1-3 NLT)

  • There aren’t many times I’m confident enough to suggest God cross-examine my heart and evaluate my intentions! It’s human nature to struggle with motives. What would happen if you prayed the prayer of this psalm, just like David did?
  • What does integrity have to do with your motives?
  • How does it impact your motives when you trust the Lord with unwavering faith?
  • What do the actions of your motives reveal about your heart?
  • Look at the end of this passage. What is David always aware of? How does this influence his heart? How has David lived? When truth instructs your heart, what changes?

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT)

  • Apart from God, how does our humanity affect our hearts?
  • What does the Lord search for?
  • Notice God’s justice isn’t only based on actions, it’s based on motives.

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT)

  • Paul told the Thessalonians that he is an approved messenger of God. God entrusted the Good News to His messengers. What is their purpose? When you see yourself as on assignment from God, how does that influence your purpose?
  • Many of us struggle with wanting so much to please people, that we end up complicating our lives more. What would happen if the only person you set out to please was God?
  • Who has the ability to examine your heart’s motives? Others may try, but their opinions are swayed by their own perspective, rather than God’s perspective. Knowing this, it makes sense to set out with a purpose of pleasing God alone, not people. The end result will be many others are blessed and drawn closer to God.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

  • Read the description above regarding the Word of God. Reword the descriptors.
  • Look especially at how the Word of God works on the heart. Why is this important?
  • If God’s Word is able to do all that, how vital is it to informing your heart’s motives?

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT)

  • God looks at our motives for giving. How are we to give?
  • What are symptoms of giving with the wrong perspective?

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

  • What are we instructed to guard?
  • Why is it so important to watch over our hearts? What does the heart represent?

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV)

  • It’s not up to us to judge, but up to God. What will He reveal?
  • What does it mean to you, to know you are eligible for a commendation from God, depending on what His light reveals in your life?

STEPS: Change Your Heart to Change Your Walk

  1. Get real with your motives. “People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.” (Proverbs 16:2 NLT)
  2. Seek Holy Spirit guidance for motives. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (Galatians 5:16 NLT)
  3. Act on Spirit-led directions during your day. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. (Galatians 5:25 NLT)

Copyright © 2018 Kathy Carlton Willis. Used by permission.

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