Recently, I have felt it on my heart to really examine my own intentions behind anything I do. Our pastor has been preaching a series in the book of James. In Chapter 4, it talks about not having because when we ask, we are asking with the wrong motives.
I had been praying for God to bless me with the finances and the resources I needed to start my own business on the side. I wanted this to be a ministry yet a profitable business. Sometimes God’s answer is no, and sometimes it is yes. What are my intentions for starting this new business? Are they to earn a lot of money so that I can buy a bigger house and a nicer car or take all the trips to all the places I’ve ever wanted to go? Is it so that I can live comfortably or give more to people in need? Or have the resources to plant more seeds to bring people to a knowledge and understanding of the Bible and a relationship with Jesus Christ? To be able to pay my bills while I minister to others?
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 4:3, NIV)
God really examines our hearts and hears our petitions. James 4:3 really made me stop and think and examine my own heart and make sure that I was truly asking for the right reasons. As children of God, we are under a very different law than that of a nonbeliever. We are His children. He longs for us to be happy and enjoy things in this life, but He also longs for us to love Him and walk with and converse with Him. He isn’t just our magical genie in a bottle that we only call to come out when we need or want something. He wants us to be responsible with what He has given us. He wants us to be humble and appreciative. If our children come to us with a want or need, we would hope they would be appreciative and acknowledge us instead of just using us. We want to know that they love us and care that we have worked so hard to provide the things they need.
In Genesis, we read about Cain and the example of him not offering his first fruits to the Lord. He held the first fruits back and gave God his leftovers. This story really convicts me when it comes to tithing. God looks at our intentions. Our hearts paint a very different picture of the person we really are. If I am giving God my leftovers, what does that say about my affections for Him? Can I truly say that I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind if I am willing to give Him second best? If I put my own interests and desires ahead of His, then I am not living what I say when I say I love Him and He is my everything.
We know that love isn’t just a feeling or a word. Love is an action. I am sure you have heard the saying “Actions speak louder than words.” The reason our actions matter so much is that we as human beings tend to act out what is really in our hearts. If my intentions in befriending somebody are to gain a reputation or have a resource to achieve something for my own interests, then my intentions are not pure, and I am misleading the other person.
Our intentions in ministry should be to ultimately lead people to the close relationship with Jesus Christ that we ourselves have been privileged to enjoy. But if I am putting myself out there to gain recognition and acknowledgment, then my intentions are wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, it is so important that we examine our intentions. Our mission is to bring others to Christ, not shine the light on ourselves.
One of the reasons our intentions matter so much to God is because they reflect our obedience to Him. When we are aware of our thoughts and intentions and are aligning them with the Word of God, we are able to acknowledge and protect against the spirit of jealousy and coveting that tries to take root in our hearts.
A great example is Cain and his brother Abel in the book of Genesis Chapter 4. They both made sacrifices to the Lord; however, the Lord favored Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s. Abel gave God his very best while Cain kept his best for himself and gave God his seconds. Cain became very jealous of his brother’s favor with the Lord and allowed rotten intentions to seep into his heart, which, for Cain, meant killing his own brother.
Having the wrong intentions can lead to disappointment and anger in the long run. God blesses our pure and true intentions. I would like to encourage all of you to ask God to examine your heart. We never want to hold back because a part of us does not believe that He will come through for us. The Bible talks about having faith. Faith and belief go hand in hand.
Hebrews 11:6, NIV
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
It delights God for us to ask Him to seek our hearts and examine us. I believe that is how we will know if our intentions are pure, and we can be at peace knowing we are hiding nothing and giving our Heavenly Father our very best.
Featured Image by Patrick Fore
In-Text Image by Visit Greenland