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Proverbs 16:2

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.

I received some amazing advice from a friend many years ago that continues to serve me well. He said, “Steve, you should always be suspicious of yourself.” At first, I didn’t like what he was implying…but then, as I reflected on the sinful nature of my own heart, I saw the wisdom in what he was saying. He didn’t quote today’s Proverb, but he was certainly echoing it’s meaning.

In King David’s prayer of repentance (Ps. 51), he declared “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.” He was honest about his shortcomings and tried not to grade himself on a curve. How easy it is for each of us to take the stand in our own defense, declaring that our motives are pure! “I was only trying to help” we say. “I had no interest in stirring things up” we proclaim. “I was just trying to do the right thing” we tell others as well as ourselves. Do you think we can feel absolutely justified in our words and/or actions, yet when the Lord examines the situation He comes to the opposite conclusion? Of course we can.

It is important to note that this verse does not mean that we will never be pure in our actions and motives. As we grow in Christ we become more like Christ, and in doing so, our motives become more pleasing to Him. As we read and then apply the scriptures, our self-awareness increases as does our holiness…and praise the Lord for that.

Wise Christians will recognize that the evil within is more deceitful and dangerous to pleasing God than the evil without. While hatred of this world is a good and godly attitude toward the dangerous temptations there, it is the deceitful lusts in your own heart that are your greatest enemy. Constant vigilance with sincere humility before God will save your spirit, your witness, and in some cases, even your life. Keep your heart with all diligence to reject any lofty thoughts of self that arise (Pr. 4:23).

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