A Matter of Motives

Thomas Brooks once said: ‘A man’s most glorious actions will at last be found to be but glorious sins, if he has made himself, and not the glory of God, the end of those actions.’
If there is one thing that we as sinful human beings are very good at, it is disguising our sins. We are often doing things outwardly for one reason, but at heart have an entirely different motive. We make our wrongdoings look like glorious actions. In other words, we are being obedient for the purposes of disobedience. Too often, our motives are geared towards gaining the favour and high opinion of others, rather than that we should see Christ glorified.

There are countless examples, big and small, of when this is done and we all have particular areas we struggle the most in. For example, Christ tells us to take the lowest seat, and so we do so in order that people may see how humble we are. We do the washing up and other tasks, not out of a servant heart, but because we want someone to see how diligent we are. We’re kind to other people because we want some greater kindness back. We say encouraging things to people not that they might be built up, but so that we might look good.

Acting like this makes us look good to others at the same time as satisfying our sinful desires. However, it grieves Christ and pleases the devil, because it is of course outright hypocrisy. Sometimes, we not only do a good job of deceiving everyone else, but we can become so pharisaic that we also deceive ourselves into thinking we are doing it for a good motive.

It is vital however that we are constantly striving against this sin, and towards the attitude of doing everything purely for the glory of Christ. Anything other than this is idolatry.

Let us then be and pray as Paul prayed;

That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.’ (Phil 1:11)

Philip Mackereth

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  1. Thanks for this!

    It's so important to have good motives in what we do.

    Does anybody have any good tips for how we can examine our motives/have truly good ones?

  2. Huh! I've never thought about this before... this is very good! Those examples you gave are SO true... nobody does anything anymore in a way to please the Lord, but rather to get other peoples attention!

    Wow! I'm so glad I read this today... very good!



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