In a recent article, we discussed – Character Matters. These are timely reflections during significant challenges our world is navigating. On top of the global picture, people’s personal lives are strained at many levels, sometimes because of global issues. Having set the tone with the Character Matters article, let’s dive back into discussion about character, but go one level deeper. I propose to you that not only does Character Matter – but Motives Matter.
Examining motives underneath issues helps build good character responses for people living under the strain of these times. It also provides a possible change of direction for people experiencing a “slipping off” of their own character. Character is intimately tied to motives.
Mind-Set and Design Affects Everything
Mind-set flows from motives, so the place to start is motives, not the mind. God set this design and essence of being human. God put humans together in this way:
- Priceless uniqueness (people are made in His own image).
- Commission of ruling the domain of earth under His auspices. (We have the honor to rule.)
- Creative employment of problem-solving per His design. (We can do what He does.)
- Privilege of opportunities and possibilities (just like His creative Person).
- Honor of an eternal soul to live forever with our Eternal God.
Whereas the plant and animal kingdoms function with basic motives, humans have intrinsic, complicated, and sentient motives. This, combined with free will created by God, gives you the option to “be you” and to “become” all you were created to be. Your skill sets and abilities can be engaged and shine in human beauty – and in God’s glory. Your unique, one-of-a-kind personality can thrive. In areas you struggle, and perhaps fail, the kindness, love, and mercy of God is invested by His power to transform you – if you trust and obey Him. This is God’s design. So, what is your mind-set? Mind-set and design go together.
Relationship With God
Let’s start with relationship with God. The most important part of living is knowing God and enjoying Him forever. Once you begin this amazing adventure, you’ll be stunned at how riveting it is to have a personal relationship with God. Even while navigating extremely difficult situations, your life changes.
No longer are you dead or empty inside. Even under difficult scenarios, your life stirs. You discover where you used to be locked in sinful patterns, there is now a key. It’s no longer critical to “get” certain experiences to be fulfilled. Instead, you find joy in “getting” a new heart – a tender, trusting, grateful, eagerly expectant, and good-natured heart. Sound too good to be true? Not sound like you?
This new heart (not dependent on feelings or circumstances) is a proof you belong to God. It doesn’t guarantee great days. You will still have troubles, temptations, and even sad times. However, the Spirit of Jesus rising up in you each day is all you need. If your heart is set on knowing and pleasing God, your redeemed motives keep you on a good path – God’s path.
Knowing God Intimately Enhances Motives Matter
You have likely experienced the harshness of life – pain and disappointment. You are in for a lovely surprise as you become refreshed with God’s love and kindness each day. Even as you face pain and disappointment, His life inside you restores hope, renews you, and even heals your heart over and over as life gives it a beating. Seeing who God is and living in His grace, affection, and mercy motivates you to want to obey His Spirit. You begin to notice the goodness of Jesus Christ driving your choices. In fact, you find yourself wanting to please God increasingly. Your motives have shifted. Christ’s resurrection power living inside you begins to transform and change your very life.
Desiring and pleasing God becomes your privilege as you daily interact with His amazing heart. All other motives begin to fall under this life-driving passion.
A Good Path
Consider with me. You may have already discovered what I did. Outside a perspective of resolved faith in God, life is meaningless. Scripture sometimes sounds like mumbo-jumbo. Yet, as you spend time in His Word, understanding comes. You even develop a hunger for it. God’s Spirit uses His Word to form you into a new creation with excellent motives. If this seems foreign and uncomfortable to you, it’s time to side-step foreign and uncomfortable. Just start! Trust and obey God even if it doesn’t make sense – even if you don’t feel like it. Stay the course. Once you become practiced in thinking according to God’s Word, it will become normal to you. You will be on a good path. This path is where godly motives are rooted and thrive. It’s where God’s seasoned people live every day.
Dead to Self Proves What?
As you walk this new good path, you realize God declares you are now dead to your old sin nature. (Rom. 6:11) Dead? While living? How?!
- You trusted Jesus to take your sins into His body on the cross – away from you. In exchange, you received His gift of holiness and eternal life by faith. It’s the Great Exchange.
- Next, you now consider yourself dead to your old nature in every life detail. It’s a “faith move.” You still live in your body, but you consider yourself dead to your old sin nature. Gone! It’s a decision you make.
- Then finally, you come close to God in your heart. (Another “faith move.”) Some find this difficult. Perhaps they cannot forgive themselves in the generous way God forgives them. Memories. Shame. Arrogance. Step away from those burdens. “Come near to God, and He will come near to you.” (Jas. 4:8)
Mind-set affects everything. Motives set your mind. So, agree with God by giving your whole self to Him completely. Then His motives will become yours.
Your Work – A Display That Motives Matter
Aligning every part of your life with God’s perfect standards is your work. Thoughts, attitudes, words, moods, and actions. Strive to make them congruent with Christ’s responses. Practice His character daily. What you practice is what you become. And while you practice, pray God will transform you as you partner with Him. You need to pray. Ask Him to do what you cannot do.
The more you yield and carry yourself like Jesus, the more you notice the Fruit of the Spirit in your life. (Gal. 5:22-23) You work. He works. “Work out your salvation.” (Phil. 2:12) He’s talking about the person who is beyond the cross. He’s talking about what comes next.
Your life on earth is the only time you can give this love gift to God. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord – even the enemy. (Phil. 2:9-11) Pursuing motives that match Christ’s motives proves you love God back. It proves gratitude for His gift of life and forgiveness. These proofs showcase admirable motives. I guess motives really do matter!
What You Believe About Jesus Influences Your Motives
God gave you a will to choose who you give your heart to. Your exquisite privilege is to give your heart to God of your own free choice. “I love you back, God.” What an honor!
We talked about being dead to sin. That same verse, Rom. 6:11, say you are also “alive to God in Christ Jesus.” This is your chance to love God first, most, and best. With godly motives, your mind-set and all other motives fall into place. Motives affect character, Motives matter! It’s God’s design.
Are you aware of your underlying motives whenever you say or do something to someone else? Do you ask yourself hard questions to ensure best motives? How closely do your motives resemble Christ’s motives? What are you doing to become more seasoned in Jesus – whether or not you feel like it or understand it? Are you seeking to know God?
Not sound like you? It can. All you have to do is shift your mind-set into God’s design. Motives matter! Go after it!
Article developed from Romans 8:9-11.