Tim Challies Christian Blog and Commentary

The Purposes of the Heart

I want to do the right things. I want to do the right things for the right reasons. In fact, I want to do the best things for the best reasons, the highest things for the highest reasons. Sometimes I know I do this. Sometimes I know I don’t. Most of the time I’m just not sure.

Too often I don't know why I do what I do, at least not all the way to the roots. I see the desire to glorify God but when I dig deeper, I see the desire to glorify self down there as well. Or sometimes the desire to be known or noticed or appreciated is there at the surface but as I shovel down I see a genuine desire to please God as well. It's a tricky, deceptive thing, the human heart. Exasperating at times.

It's not tricky to God, of course. "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart." The Lord sees and the Lord knows not only what I do but why I do it. He is not the least bit confused. The proverb is true, of course, but as with all proverbs it is not universally applicable. At times the way of this man is not right in his own eyes and at times the way is opaque. There are so many times that I just don't know why I do what I do. Is it for me or is it for God? How much is for me and how much is for God?

Sometimes I talk it out with God. "You say to do this, so I’m going to do it. But you also say to do it selflessly and silently and I don't think my motives here are completely pure. I think I want to be noticed and appreciated for it. So I'm just going to go ahead and do it, because I believe you want me to and I believe it's right. And I'll trust you to work it for good. And I'll ask you to forgive me even now for whatever part of me wants to be glorified for it."

I believe that is a prayer God hears and heeds. I have to. And I have to believe that God is pleased, delighted even, with the part of me, however much it is, that genuinely wants to be unnoticed so he can be seen and known and glorified.

It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God (1 Cor. 4).