Often I need to experience something more than once to really begin to soak in the truth. A few weeks ago I wrote about what I was learning regarding motive, and today it was reinforced differently. Paul seems pretty adamant in Ephesians to get his point across about how important the motive of our heart is and not just our outward action. Just like any parent, the Father knew He would have to repeat Himself a bazillion times throughout His Word to have a prayer of catching our attention. Today He did. 🙂
Ephesians 6:1-6 NIV
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.”
What stood out to me…
A few weeks ago as I was dragging the day’s plethora of dance and school items out of the van, I noticed a weird cream inside the back-seat cupholder. Further investigation revealed sunscreen was not only in the cupholder, but in perfectly formed squiggles across a few seats and arm rests as well.
After confronting the girls, it was apparent no one would budge easily. They were both adamant they had not done it and someone must have broken into the car. At this point, their big brown eyes had their dad convinced of innocence, however this mamma has been around the block too many times.
I gave my best mom speech, kissed them goodnight, and waited. Within 10 minutes a little voice came from one of the bedrooms and confessed not only her mistake, but the sin of lying as well. While I was still disappointed with the choice to not tell the truth, the parent in me was actually proud.
My child’s intention shifted from self-protection to selfless confession.
Motive is everything.
Had I manipulated the girls by consequence into confessing (which I’ll admit I’m not always above when needed), I wouldn’t have necessarily been as proud. It would have just been a means to an end of gathering information for me, and self-serving to avoid harsher punishment for the kids. But by letting her submit with dignity on her own, the heart of my daughter had pure intentions.
Luke 15 shares the parable of the prodigal son. When the son demands his inheritance from the father, the father does not exert his authority over the son, rather watching the young man leave the family property. Many years later, when the son has used the last of the money, he humbly returns home to ask for a job from his family. To the son’s surprise, the father throws a lavish feast in his honor to welcome him back.
We could guess the father was still sad and disappointed from the years lost to the son’s self-serving impulses, however he celebrated the change in the son’s motive of his heart.
A 180 degree turn from conceited to humble.
The Lord can exert Himself over us at any time. Yet He gives us free will.
No matter what we are dealing with: small situations like smearing sunscreen in the van or a child who has turned away from his family, the Lord’s desire for the end result is submission to Jesus.
Whatever is happening in our lives and in those close to us, may we continually check to make sure not only our actions, but our motives line up with the character of God in His Word.