Church • Devotion #2: Motives Make the Man (or Woman)

Ever hear the saying, “Motives make the man?” That is the impulse behind your actions that ultimately determine if it was honorable or not. Even in our legal system, the intent of a person to harm someone brings about more severe punishment. However, even when something good happens, the motive behind it should be honorable.  

When I was working with students in a school setting, I had someone take another student’s backpack with all their books and devices. When I had eventually tracked it down, I had camera footage of the student taking her bag. He left the building and put the bag in the trunk of his car. So, I called the student into my office and when he arrived, I noticed he had an identical backpack. I went from believing that he stole the backpack to realizing that he may have taken the wrong back-pack. I showed him the footage of him putting the backpack into his trunk. We went out to his car trunk, and there the other backpack was sitting with all the books and devices. So the question was, “Did he steal the backpack?” I did not think so. It was unfortunate, but I did not believe his motive or intent was to steal the backpack.

Romans 12:17 reads, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Further, 2 Corinthians 8:21 states, “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” These verses are a perfect challenge in today’s world, and apparently, they were pretty important words when the Bible was written. Remember, the “motives make the man or woman.” We have been instructed by God to do what is honorable from every perspective. This can be hard. I have worked with a lot of families that really only want obedience from their children, but I would challenge parents that you want obedience with the right motives. We as parents want children to do the right things for the right reasons.God wants the same from His children. He does not just want us to follow the rules, but He wants us to love Him in a way that we want to follow the rules. Our motives are important to accomplishing this goal. In 1 Peter 2:12, we read, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Doing the right things with the right motives will allow the world to see God through our actions. We need to remember, the world is looking for us to do the right thing for the right reasons!

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