The Mystery of Motives

motivesmallWhen our grandson Danny died at age 5 the other 17 children in our daughter’s family were, as you would expect, grief stricken at the loss of their little brother, except, it appeared, for Alejandro. Ale, as we call him, went outside and started to play with a homemade push-type wooden go-cart. The rest of us found it strange and inappropriate behavior; how could he be so insensitive? It was much later that Ale mentioned, “I used to push Danny around on the go-cart.”

Wow and ouch! We were so wrong in our judgment of Ale! We had no idea what his true motive was when he left the mourning family in the house to go play with the go-cart. Now we understood; it was his way of staying connected to Danny, his way of mourning.

This episode was, and is, a reminder to me that it’s nearly impossible to judge the motives of others. How can we know for a certainty the motive of why someone does something? We can’t. And yet we often react to the person’s action based on our best guess as to what’s motivated the person. It’s likely a bad guess!

When you think about it, we often have a difficult time untangling and identifying our own motives for what we say or do. In our more honest moments we have to admit that we rarely do anything out of a totally pure motive. Why, then, do we think we’re so good at judging some other person’s motives?

When it comes down to it, only God truly understands our motives, and those of others, completely. A good rule by which we should live is this: never judge the motives of others!

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.(Proverbs 16:2)


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