It’s a heart issue. That’s what we say. With good reason, heart issues are important. Jesus makes that very clear all throughout His ministry. His issue with the religious leaders is that the look right but their heart isn’t in the right place. Jesus calls this hypocrisy.
In the church we throw this phrase around like beads at Mardi Gras. Sometimes because it’s true and it is important for us to remember that our motive matters. Action doesn’t make it right. We are told to speak the truth in love. Which means that our motivation is as important as our behavior. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason or with the wrong heart is wrong.
Here is my issue. Sometimes we are too flippant with the use of the phrase. Motives matter, I’m not denying that. Sometimes we come out with this statement assuming that in our imperfect, limited, human life we are capable of understanding the heart behind another person’s actions. There is a degree to which we can and should for the sake of growth. We should attempt to look behind the veil of a person’s behavior to see where their heart truly lies.
However, we must be cautious in our assessment. We can address that motive matters but it is difficult to declare what is in the heart of another person. Our focus on motivation sometimes makes us over zealous in our assessment of the motives of others. We are not heart police. We can teach that the heart matters. We can challenge people to check their hearts. Who are we to decide/judge if a person’s heart is in the right place? Can we tap into the omniscience of God? Can we see past the flesh of another being to TRULY and ACCURATELY test and understand why they do something?
If we can’t answer yes to those questions then maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about the heart of the people around us and we should focus more on making sure our heart is and remains in the right place.
Let’s assume a “judge not lest you be judged” posture in our assessment of the motives of others at least as much as it applies to us. Nothing wrong with question motives. When you or your heart/feelings are involved just assume you are too emotionally compromised to be able to assess the heart of someone else. When YOU are involved. YOU can’t truly see the motives of another person because they are tinted by how their behavior affects you.
Try this: rather than worrying about the heart of another focus on how to love them better. If we all worried less about justice and focused more on just loving people not only would there be more justice the world would be a better place.
When a given a choice to worry about another’s intentions or to love. Choose love. In fact, when given a choice between love and anything else, choose love.