“But when King David heard of all these things, he was very wroth. And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.”
II Samuel 13: 21, 22
King James Version
“Motive” – An impulse. An emotion or desire or need. Acting in incitement to action. To provide an incentive to act.
“Actions are visible, though motives are secret.”
Have I ever given personal advice to another person based on my own hidden motives?
What do I think the word “motive” means when applied to my everyday life and the decisions I make?
“Behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts.”
“Humanity is made upon an infinity of different individuals. Each of us travels for motives exclusively his (her) own.”
Not long ago, Jim and I were watching a program on television. Two individuals, with opposing views, were attempting to have a civil discussion, which they were not succeeding at with much grace. As their voices became louder and their annoying ability to interrupt each other mid-sentence became more pronounced, Jim looked at me and made an extremely astute observation. (It’s just one of the many reasons I love him so much, for he is very intelligent!)
“Dorothy,” he began, “I certainly wish I knew what these two guys real motives were!” As he shook his head, Jim continued, “All of us have motives we frequently keep hidden behind the decisions we make. And furthermore, many times we even keep our motives for doing certain things buried away from our family and friends.”
I had to agree that Jim was on to something. Many things that transpire in all our lives have their roots in the motives of the person who is pulling the strings – the person who is in control.
Several months ago, a friend told me about a work situation she was involved in. Without warning, nearly thirty people who worked at the organization were laid off, with the reason being given that the company was facing a dreadful financial crisis. On the surface, with the economy struggling, this rationale sounded plausible. It appeared to be the truth at first glance. But when, a month later, the organization sent out their Annual Report to all their major stockholders, and the financial statement boasted a four million dollar profit, all the company employees began to rethink the excuse which was portrayed as the reason for a thirty employee cutback. What was finally uncovered was the fact that there were some very “evil” motives that precipitated the sudden job loss for innocent, hard-working people.
While it is very difficult to uncover the hidden motives in others, it does do us well to take time to look within our own hearts and reflect on the way we choose to use our God-given ability called, “the power of choice,” to make decisions in our lives. It was Herman Buesenbaum who is credited with speaking these words which I know all of us have probably heard on more than one occasion, “The end justifies the means.” I don’t and I won’t live my life by such a faulty premise for there are “ends” that while they may be righteous, if I have lied and cheated my way to get to a “holy end,” I’ve become contaminated in the process.
As we look at our texts for today, two things really struck me. First, when David heard of Amnon’s behavior toward Tamar, the Bible, says, “he was wroth.” David was furious. But his fury did not result in action. Nowhere do we find that David went to Amnon and confronted him. And this makes me wonder if David’s own lack of moral fortitude in the Bathsheba affair didn’t subsequently affect him in calling sin by its rightful name, especially when sin existed under his own roof. This tragic consequence of sinful behavior is often overlooked by many people. What may once have been a person with a stellar reputation, may be someone who has found themselves challenged by their own folly when they fell into behavior that besmirched not only their own character, but the name of their heavenly Father, as well. We will find out in the coming weeks, that David’s leadership in his home and in the country he ruled, took a huge hit because of his moral failing.
The second thing we find in this passage of Scripture is that while Absalom loved Tamar his sister, and took her into his home and under his care, his motive for telling her to keep quiet was one that played into his ultimate hand of revenge. Absalom’s motives were to get even. And this is often the case in our dealings with others, who like Absalom, have an agenda outside God’s will. This fact brings us to the words of David, himself, found in Psalm 51, which was written by David after his fall into sin. How precious these words are and how well they describe the human condition of faulty motives and impure hearts. “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity…behold Thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me know wisdom” (Psalm 51: 4-6, K.J.V.).
When I find myself questioning my decisions and the motives behind them, my only safeguard is to go to the, “Spirit of Truth,” for “He will guide (me) into all truth” (John 16: 13), the disciple John tells us. This is a promise I can rely on from my heavenly Father. How I love the words expressed by Augustine, “Where I found truth, there found I my God, who is the truth itself.” Founded on the bedrock of God’s truth, we can be safe in the knowledge that our motives and our actions are in conformity with our Father’s will for our lives.
“Lord, give us weak eyes for things which are of no account and clear eyes for all Your truth.”
“Lord, let me not love in just words and talk, but let my love be true, showing itself in action.”
1 John 3: 18
Good News Bible
“Spirit of truth and judgment,
who alone can exorcize
the powers that grip the world:
at the point of crisis
give us discernment,
that we may accurately name
what is evil,
and know the way that leads
to peace, through Jesus Christ.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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