“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. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12,13).
MOTIVES MAKE A DIFFERENCE, DO THEY NOT? When we fail to use good judgment, we hope people will see that we “meant well.” But there is another side to this. Actions that are good, at least in their outward appearance, may be contaminated by impure motives. If everybody could see what God sees in our hearts, they would often have to reevaluate even the best of our deeds.
So the question I must always ask is not only What did I do? but Why did I do it? The outward deed is certainly important (2 Corinthians 5:10), but the inward motive is even more so (Acts 8:20,21). God, of course, is the only one who knows our motives completely. We are “naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” He knows not only our words and deeds, but He knows “the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
All of this means that when we’re considering the problem of sin, we need to see how deep it really goes. (And please understand, I’m talking about our own sinfulness, not that of other people.) Sin strikes deeper than we admit. If all that had gone wrong was that our behavior had become dysfunctional, that problem would be relatively easy to fix. But the problem is that our hearts have become rebellious. Selfishness taints nearly everything we do, sometimes so subtly that we don’t even see it ourselves.
And if the problem is this deep, we should expect the remedy to be radical. Bringing our innermost hearts back to a position of utter unselfishness, God will have to do some serious work. The battle to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) will take more than a few days. And the process will not be painless.
It may be that our most pressing need is for greater self-honesty — and deeper repentance. The human heart is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). So when we find ourselves doing something for multiple reasons, do we have the honesty to ask, “Deep, deep down, what was the real reason why I did that?”
“Man sees your actions, but God your motives” (Thomas à Kempis).