Why did you do that? As parents, we’ve asked this of our children a lot because we want to know what the child was thinking when they decided to draw all over the walls...or their face, or play baseball in the house. We want to know the reason because we want to get at the root of the problem because when you know the root of a problem you can start to address the issue.
Motive is something a little different. The exact definition of motive is: “a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.” Motives are what detectives look for when they examine a crime scene. Christian apologist, author, speaker, and homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace says there are only three motives people have for committing crimes: financial greed, sexual lust/relational desire, or a pursuit of power. He writes: “When I enter a murder scene, I simply ask myself a question: Who would have benefited from the perspective of money, sex or power? My suspect will eventually fit into one of these three categories.”
“People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.” (Proverbs 16:2)
This verse gives me pause. The Lord is examining my motives, my hidden reasons for doing things. To know that I might think myself pure, but the Lord is examining my motives makes me want to take a step back and examine my motives also. You see, as adults, we don’t like answering the question Why did you do that? anymore than a guilty child does. As Christians, we know we need accountability. Confession of sins is essential to repentance, which is essential in our walk as Christians. We should all have someone to whom we can be held accountable; for those who are married, there is no better accountability partner than your spouse.
So do you examine your motives like the Lord does? If we stopped and asked ourselves why am I searching this?, why am I switching to this channel?, why did I rent this movie?, why am I telling this story about this person?, why did I make that choice at work?, why did I spend my money in that way?, then we may find that our motives are rooted in the same three categories that Wallace established: financial greed, sexual lust/physical pleasure, or power/pride. Consider that God is examining your motives, so you also should examine them as truthfully as you can. Are you telling that story about that person to make yourself look better or to hurt them or to gain power? Are you switching to that channel or watching that movie hoping to catch something you shouldn’t see? Are you returning to that same restaurant or store because of the good-looking employee who treats you so well?
“Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8)
“So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9)
God knows your motives. Make sure you do, too. Make sure your motives for doing something are pure and not self-serving or pleasing to your sinful nature. Align your motives with the Lord’s will and plan to live a holy and blameless life (Ephesians 1:4) and always aim to please Him.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
You can check out all of the great work J. Warner Wallace is doing at www.coldcasechristianity.com.