All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives. Proverbs 16:2
Motives . . . everything can look great that a man is doing until someone begins to reveal his motives. I remember the first time the Lord revealed to me the issue of motives. It was like a light went on inside of my spirit. When the light went on, things did not look very pretty. In fact, things looked horrible the first time God decided to show me my motives in something I had done.
If all we do is look at the outward acts of a man - most men will look fairly good. But why is this man doing what He does? Is there an ulterior motive behind all the good works that reveals a darker side to things? This is why Solomon says that even though a man's ways are clean in his own sight, the Lord is going to weigh the motives behind his deeds. It is like a man giving millions to a cause - for all the good press it will earn him in the eyes of men. Sure the money will still bless those who receive it, but the heart of the one who gave it is far from sterling.
The word "motives" here is the word "ruach." It is plural, so the literal word means spirits. The Lord weighs the spirits involved in whatever acts that we do. The weighing the Lord does involves taking the act or acts and putting them through His "moral evaluation" where not the act itself is tested, but the spirit in which the act was done. It is possible to do the right thing the wrong way or with the wrong spirit. Such heart-searching is a minefield for humans because they are fallen and will usually think whatever they are doing is fine. That is why the verse says that in his own sight a man considers all his own ways clean (a word used to describe the objects used in worship of Jehovah in temple worship). We need God to reach into the deepest recesses of our spirit and reveal what is truly going on there. Then and only then can we know if an action in which we are engaging - a path we are taking - a word we are speaking - is the right or godly one.
It takes going to the level of the work of the Holy Spirit to truly understand yourself. Only God Himself can test us to the level of our spirit. Thus, in the end, fellowship with God and walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit is the only way to ensure that you are walking in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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