Proverbs 21: 1 – 4; 8 (The Message)
“Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God;
he directs it to whatever ends he chooses.
2 We justify our actions by appearances;
God examines our motives.
3 Clean living before God and justice with our neighbours
mean far more to God than religious performance.
4 Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked—
are just plain sin.
8 Mixed motives twist life into tangles;
pure motives take you straight down the road.”
These verses really make me think about motivation. What motives are behind my behaviour? When I volunteer to help in an organization, why do I make that commitment? When I agreed to be a leader in some situation, why did I do that? When I agree to help with some project that I really don’t enjoy, why did I do that? There are so many choices that I make every day, and to be honest, I’m not always sure why I do what I do.
One thing I do know is that I want people to like me. I want people to think I’m reliable and willing to support good causes. I want people to think I’m smart and competent. I want people to think I’m really committed to my faith. When people think of me, I want them to essentially say – “Oh isn’t she wonderful!” And to be honest, I think that is likely true of most of us. Who wants to be thought of as a failure or pathetic? Solomon sums that up so well – “We justify our actions by appearances”. We want to look good, so we do what we think makes us look that way.
“Arrogance and pride – distinguishing marks in the wicked – are just plain sin.” That verse makes me cringe. Arrogance is something I certainly don’t want to be associated with. The dictionary defines it as “offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride”. But pride? That doesn’t sound quite so awful. We use that word more often when we encourage someone. We might tell our children we are proud of them for doing something well. It doesn’t seem so wrong to be proud of ourselves for staying on task and completing a job well done. However, again, this verse points to our motivations -to feel good, important.
How much of my motivation for doing things is connected to God? “Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God; he directs it to whatever ends he chooses.” Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean being the president of a country or a big business. We are leaders in our homes. If you are a Sunday School teacher, you are a leader there. If you are on some kind of committee, you are part of the leadership there. Every single one of us leads somewhere.
But the major idea in that verse is that God controls what is happening – “a channel of water controlled by God.” That is such a lovely picture. Water is a necessity in our lives. It comprises 60% of our bodies. Science says we need 11 to 15 cups of water a day. We need it to keep clean. On the hot days of summer, we need it to keep cool. Our world needs us – “water controlled by God”. When God controls our motives and behaviour, we are a blessing to those around us. Wow!
That makes me stop and think. What motivates me the most? That is something I really need to pray about. I need to ask God to motivate me, to direct me. I suspect that is something we all need to do.
“Mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road.”
Our song for today is Lord, I Give You My Heart by Michael W. Smith