Over the past couple months I’ve been on a journey in my own life of trying to discover the motives behind my actions. I’ve been at a place for quite a while now that longs to do the right thing for the right reason. So many times I do the right thing in everyone’s eyes because I want people to think better of me or I want to gain respect. The motives behind my actions are not always what they should be.
Jesus spends most of his time teaching about the heart. It seems as though Jesus cares more about our heart than our actions. If our hearts are in the right place, won’t the right actions flow out of that? We have some how switched the two. We think doing the right thing means our hearts are in the right place. I know this isn’t true because there I times I do the right thing for very selfish reasons.
I have begun asking the question, why am I doing… fill in the blank. What I have found in my life is that the reason why I do a lot of things is because there has been someone out there that has told me not to. Let me give you an example. One day I was at Chic-fil-A for lunch with some friends. Chic-fil-A has the best milkshakes, so I usually go for a chocolate shake. This day was no different. The cashier handed me the milkshake and says, “Don’t squeeze it too hard the lid may pop off.” After hearing, this I didn’t even think - I just instantly gave the cup a couple small squeezes right in front of the cashier. The cashier looked at me and said, “I said don’t.” I have this automatic reaction to people who tell me to do something; I just don’t do well when people tell me what to do.
The question then remains, why do I do that? Why am I so quick to do the opposite of what people tell me? What is the reason or motivation behind those actions? When we answer these kinds of questions we begin to understand the condition of our own hearts. But we must evaluate our motivation, not just our actions. Jesus says, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Jesus is constantly telling parables that people think have to do with farming, finding lost things, and being kind, when the more I read them the more it seems as Jesus is trying to get us to see the condition of our own hearts.
For me answering these questions has shown me that I have a prideful heart at times. The reason I do the opposite of what I’m told is because I want to prove to people that I don’t have to listen to anyone and I can figure it out on my own. That’s the truth. For the last couple months I have been aware of this and have spent a lot of time in prayer about it. As we answer these kinds of questions it causes us to look straight in the mirror and own our own junk. It goes beyond our actions and into our hearts. This is what Jesus kept trying to get the Pharisees to see. Following Jesus is about more than just what we do, but why we do it. When we answer that question we are forced to stare at our evil and deal with it instead of being blind to it. We have gotten really good at playing the game and doing the right thing, but all we are doing is fooling ourselves into thinking that we have it all together. I hope you spend some time evaluating your own heart by finding the motives behind your actions.