Recently, we explored 12 Qualities Of Noble Character and how critical it is to aim for excellence. In fact, I would add that people with noble character help change the world. We need more noble character around the world. If noble character is that important, and since Motives Matter – how do you measure your motives as you work to increase your own noble character? That’s the content of today’s material.
Life happens! It’s always a challenge to know how to approach an issue, who to talk to, what to say, action steps to solve a problem – all with good motives and wisdom. Life gets complicated and messy. Sometimes it’s hard to consistently adopt a solution-oriented approach while keeping motives in a place of integrity.
Plato said, “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” That’s an interesting place to start – the measure of a man, woman, or even a child. It’s what we do to gain and maintain a level of power that exposes the root of motives. There’s no question every person needs a certain amount of power just to live. But after that is established, what motivates people to attain more?
What motivates you? And how do you measure your motives?
Factors That Affect Motives
There’s no denying it. Several factors affect motives. To measure your motives, you must look at contributing factors. Let’s look at four of many factors.
Perspective Affects Motives
Perspective is essential for Jesus followers. This is hard in a broken, fallen world – especially when you are mistreated or have strong opposition. Perspective affects motives, so it’s only reasonable to say that Christ-like perspective is important to aim for.
Desires Affect Motives
There’s another root that affects what you do. Desires affect motives. Wants, hopes, dreams, plans, even needs are forces that “weigh in” on your motives. The question is – which of these forces should you listen to? Which of them represents the desires of Jesus?
Survival Affects Motives
Sometimes the reason a person keeps doing what they do is because they just want to get through. Not give up. They want to “make it” to the other side of something. So, survival also affects motives.
Love Affects Motives
Love (and caring) affects motives. The strong drive to protect, nurture, and defend another person is a powerful motive. It can propel a person to do things they otherwise would not do. FYI – This motive happens to be one of God’s strong motives for you! In fact, it’s this particular factor, God’s deep love for you, that provides the “safety” you need to evaluate and measure your motives. How does that work? Let’s take a look.
How Does God’s Love Help You Measure Your Motives
When God’s love lands solidly in your heart, it changes you. It stabilizes and balances you. Courage is renewed and hope restored. God’s love is amazing! It is power! His strong power cord connects to your life, surges through your soul, and binds your entire world into His care. God’s power connects to your motives. That’s good news. His good power helps you set perspective, purify desires, enable your survival, and steady you with His love.
Good Questions And Good Answers
When you are tucked into God’s love by faith, knowing His love for you will never change, you feel protected – enough to look deeper and measure your motives. Love makes things better, safer. Things that felt threatening before don’t matter anymore, so you can be honest to ask good questions and explore good answers as you measure your motives.
Here are examples of some good questions you might ask yourself:
- Why do I do what I do?
- What drives me underneath my choices?
- Do I feel insecure?
- What about thinking I’m always right and should be heard?
- Maybe I just don’t want to do certain things but say, “I’m too tired” because that sounds better.
- What if I’m genuinely too tired, overwhelmed, deeply discouraged?
- Who can I trust these days?
- What’s going to happen in future days with everything such a mess?
- Do my motives match Jesus’ motives?
- Are my desires pleasing to God? Do I consider God my Father? Am I enjoying His love each day?
- Am I moody or irritable?
- Does my heart match my words?
- Am I letting fear or resentment steal my joy?
Come up with a list of your own good questions. Then pray and ponder so you can provide good answers.
How To Measure Your Motives When You Are Mistreated
Even when you are treated poorly, slandered, or attacked, you can trust God’s love and care. He will help you solve the problems and come out OK. But you must “stay in Christ.”
God’s part in your mistreatment? If you “stay in Christ,” He comforts and heals you. He also gives you power and honorable responses like Jesus has. And He works in your difficulty to do what only He can.
Your part? Set your perspective, purify your desires, trust Him for your survival, and let Him steady you with His love.
In other words – God works. You work.
Jesus’ life gives a “real live” example how to approach mistreatment and difficulties. Study His life in the Gospels. Peter learned from Jesus’ example. He offers some good responses. Consider his words in 1 Pet. 3:15-17:
- Be prepared to answer everyone . . . with gentleness and respect,
- Keep a clear conscience, so those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
- For it is better . . . to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
Some Additional Good Advice
Peter’s advice directly addresses motives when mistreated. James, Jesus’ brother, also has good advice. Pray! “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (Jas. 5:16) Then in Matt. 18:22, Jesus gives help when you’ve been sinned against. He says to forgive – again! Prov. 4:23 adds instruction – setting boundaries. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In other words, think well enough of yourself to protect your heart – and do what you can to protect your whole person. If God loves you enough to care for you, shouldn’t you be doing the same for yourself?
It’s hard to be blameless. Yet, God wants you to aim for holy, righteous, blameless. (1 Thess. 2:10) This takes willingness to measure your motives.
Wanting results for hard work is normal. When you plant a crop, you look for harvest. When you start a new health practice, you look for better results. Entering a business deal, you want profit. So many life endeavors are launched with specific outcomes in mind.
To get results with godly motives means – dig deep and measure your motives – because they matter.
How To Measure Your Motives
We already talked about good questions and answers. When you ask good questions, and then provide good answers, you are being pro-active to measure your motives. This helps you have an Alive and Active Life.
The following questions are designed to get at underlying motives so you can identify and measure them. Stay connected to God’s love through His strong power cord as you explore the questions and start to answer them. They may reveal some concerns, insecurities, fears, pride, or weaknesses. Don’t be afraid. You are safe in God’s love.
- Do I care too much what people think of me? (fear of man)
- Have I sacrificed my reputation into God’s care, trusting He will represent me well even when I’ve been slandered?
- Am I more concerned about getting in trouble than I am about doing what is right and developing godly character?
- Is laziness the reason I don’t properly plan or carry out my responsibilities? Do I not want to be accountable for them?
- Am I focused, alert, and aware of things/people around me? Or have I “checked out” because I don’t want to deal with it or because I’ve been hurt before?
- Is my greatest motivation to please God and bring joy to His heart? Or are my eyes on myself?
- Am I practicing the Fruit of the Spirit to build better patterns while asking God to transform my character as I trust and obey Him? I work. He works. We are partners in righteousness. Do I express gratitude for this arrangement?
- Do I care about a world filled with lost souls? Am I doing anything to reach individuals in the i-generation I am part of? Is my time, money, and skill set being used to reach people for Jesus? After all, why am I even on this globe?
- Does my “life e-pistle story,” have a theme of surrender to Jesus? Do I want His power to be demonstrated in my life?
- What things do I need to change so my heart is better aligned with God’s heart?
- Do I love Jesus first, most, and best . . . and people next?
As you better understand the power God has given you for an Alive and Active Life, you will also discover the measure of who you are.
* Content for this article comes from my book MORE E-pistles For An i-Generation: Relevant In A Digital Age. The Scripture focus is 1 Thess. 2:1-12.