Scriptural Gem for March 2017

In Proverbs 16:2, we read: “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” When we consider what is meant by the word, “motives,” we may conclude that it is referring to the reason(s) why we do something. Certainly, this is true enough, but there is much to be learned by considering the original Hebrew. In doing this, we are taken to the following verses which contain the same word: 

Genesis 7:22: “Everything on dry land that had the breath of life (Ruach) in its nostrils died.”

Ezekiel 37:5: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath (Ruach) enter you, and you will come to life.”

This word, ‘Ruach,’ translated “motives” in Proverbs 16:2 is also translated “breath” and “breath of life.” This word is found repeatedly throughout the Old Testament and it often refers to that breath that is given by and is of God Himself. So, when we consider Proverbs 16:2, we must understand that the writer is referring to something much more profound than man’s reasoning behind his actions. His intent is to convey that God looks at and weighs whether His Life, His Breath is behind our ‘Christian’ actions or not! The proverb reminds us that left to assess our own “ways,” we will always give ourselves commendation for our deeds and declare them “pure.” The warning follows, reminding us that God will provide the true assessment of our actions, and that it is always based on whether it began with Himself! Did He provide that breath to bring that action to life? If not, the action is worthless even though the intent behind it is what we would describe as 'good' or even 'noble.’

There are two strong incidences in the New Testament that illustrate this truth. The first is Matthew 16:21-23: “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” From this verse, we can argue that Peter's motives were good: he loved Jesus and did not want Him to suffer or die. Yet, we are chastened ourselves when we see how far off the mark Peter is. Jesus’ rebuke, “Get behind me, Satan!” leaves nothing to question. The breath, the will of God was that His Son must suffer and die.

The second is found in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” We could say that these people thought they were doing wonderful ‘Christian’ things: serving their fellow man, driving out demons and performing miracles. Yet, Jesus says to them without hesitation, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' Such is the folly of living a ‘Christian’ life devoid of the life and breath of Christ!

Let us think carefully about our Christianity, friends. How many of our ‘Christian’ actions are evidence of that “spring of living water” welling up from within? How many begin and end only with ourselves and our own ideas of goodness? God will pull back the curtain, exposing all to His light, and reveal the actual “motive.” Indeed, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:21) Lord Jesus, overcome us and indwell us that Your ways be accomplished in and through us for Your name’s sake. Amen.