What are your motives?
Updated: Mar 2, 2019
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body.After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name, But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.John 2:13-25
Jesus is going to Jerusalem for Passover; sees merchants selling Passover sacrifices in the temple courts; and he drives them out. What stood out to me here is that Jesus saw the motives of these men. The law and tradition at that time required all Jews to give a Passover sacrifice. There was nothing necessarily wrong with selling sheep, cattle, and doves. However, I think Jesus was less concerned about what they were doing, and far more concerned about their hearts.
Many of us do really good things for the wrong motives. Some Jews at that time didn’t have livestock to offer as a sacrifice, so they sold some of what they did have and used the money to buy the required sacrifice. These merchants convinced themselves and others that they were doing a good thing by providing the livestock for others to observe the Passover. Jesus wouldn’t have gotten so angry if this happened at the proper place for a fair price. Jesus saw these men taking advantage of a tradition, a beautiful remembrance of when God saved his people in Egypt. They were using this for their personal gain. Their motives weren’t pure. Instead, they were motivated by greed and personal gain at the expense of the poor. That is what broke Jesus' heart.
How often do we do really good things for the wrong motives? I look at my own life. I am a foster parent so I get the great privilege of taking care of orphans. We are called to care for the orphans in the Bible. However, I find myself at times doing it for the wrong motives. There are times a child misbehaves, tests my patience, and I might yell and send them to their room.But then I have to check my heart- am I doing this to love her well and teach her right from wrong, or am I doing it out of a desire to control her?Am I trying to show her who is in charge in this house? I even find myself sometimes telling others “I do foster care,” and I have to check my heart. Is this starting to become a part of my identity? Do I want others to see me in a good light?
Jesus cares more about our heart than anything we do outwardly. He wants to be the transformer and restorer of our hearts.He doesn’t want to just “fix” our behavior. As Christians, sometimes we get it wrong by trying to tally up “good” things we are doing for the Kingdom. But I truly think Jesus looks right into our hearts and looks for our motives. I think none of our motives scare him, but He wants to partner with us to realign our motives. The first step is asking ourselves why we are doing the good things we are doing.
Pick an area of your life and honestly ask yourself “What is my motive?” Be honest. Jesus isn’t afraid of our motives. He just wants to partner with us.
If your motive doesn’t align with Jesus’ heart, ask Jesus how you can partner with Him to align your heart to His.
Tell someone what you are learning and what your next step looks like to align with Jesus.
Lord, thank you for caring so much about our hearts. Thank you for worrying less about what we do, and more about why we do it. We love that you can see us, know us deeply, and look so far below the surface. We ask that you show us our motives and help partner with us as we align with the goodness of who you are.
Sarah loves following Jesus on crazy adventures. She enjoys being one of the behind the scenes organizers of Renewal, and helping others follow the visions God gives them. Two years ago, God called her to the incredible adventure of becoming a foster parent, and she has had the privilege of being a foster mom to 3 amazing little girls. Currently, she is fostering one sassy but sweet one year old she hopes to adopt soon. Professionally, Sarah is a chemical engineer and works for a plastics company, but no one really understands what she does. She attends Anthem House Church and she has a heart for inner city outreach. You can connect with Sarah at: