Last Friday I was sitting a local restaurant reading my Proverbs chapter for the day and I came across this verse:
Proverbs 21:2 NIV
A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.
As I sat there drinking my coffee, my mind immediatly was captured by the theme throughout the Bible of God weighing us not just on our actions, but on our motivations that lead to those actions.
In the scriptures this idea of motivations is captured by the Hebrew word lêb (‘labe’) or the Greek word καρδία (‘kardia’). Both words carry the idea of the heart as the center of the human soul or mind; Where your motivations are generated from.
Let’s Journey through the Bible and see this theme in action:
Our first stop is in the Book of Job. Job is believed to be centered around or just before the book of Exodus and when Israel was in Egypt. In Job 31, we see this theme appear as summary of what Job has learned through the challenges he faced.
Job 31:6 NIV
let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless
Below is an image of a carving from Ancient Egypt that depicts the very idea Job talks about in this verse.
Next our journey jumps ahead about 1000 years to the wisdom of King Solomon, son of King David and Bathsheba.
Along with Proverbs 21:2, which we quoted eariler, we see this theme appear again. King Solomon once again restates the idea that our motives are the focus of the Lord not the person’s ways or actions.
Proverbs 16:2 NIV
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Continuing on our Journey through the Bible we jump ahead again. This time approximately 800 years or so, to the time of Jesus.
During what is called “The sermon on the Mount” we see Jesus teach on this theme multile times. While dealing with the tough subjects of Anger and Adultery, Jesus takes the teaching to a deeper level explaining that it begins in the heart (greek: kardia)
Matthew 5:21-22,27-28 NIV
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.(Greek: καρδία ‘kardia’)
Our final stop on our brief journey on this theme is another 20 or so years beyond the time of Jesus.
Paul, an Apostle and teacher of Jesus, writes a letter to the people of Corinth where he highlights this very theme again.
1 Corinthians 4:4-5 NIV
My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (Greek: καρδία ‘kardia’). At that time each will receive their praise from God.
These are just a few examples of what is a very important theme throughout the Bible. It’s more than just what you do. The motivations of your heart, some of which may never become actions, are more important to God because its those motivations that will either draw you toward God or lead you away from Him.
I can think of examples in my own life where I have thought things, “dreamed of things,” or dwelled on ideas that never became actions but at the same time were not God honoring either. Those motivations of my heart worked against me in my life long journey to grow closer to God.
My challenge to you today is to look beyond your actions to the motivations of your heart. Examine where you are at – being completely honest with yourself and with God. Then confess what you need to confess and celebrate what you need to celebrate and do it all with the God who ultimately wants to be in close relationship with you for all eternity.