The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Motives



It’s the Thought That Counts


All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Proverbs 21:2


The man’s case was very simple. That he had been cheated out of his job was clear enough. That he had also lost his temper once or twice was also very clear. His boss had it in for him and was probably looking for a way to get rid of him. Eventually he found it. It wasn’t fair, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

As he told me his story, I could sense his anger, his outrage, his frustration. The trouble didn’t end when he lost his job. Now the company was fighting his unem­ployment claim. What about your union? He shrugged his shoulders and said they were doing what they could.

The real pain was not from the loss of a job, as terri­ble as that was. The real pain came from the anger eating away at his soul. The acid of resentment bubbled away like hot lava inside a volcano. “Pastor, the reason I came to see you was because I hate living like this. For the first time in my life I feel prejudice toward people whose skin doesn’t happen to be white like mine. That’s what’s killing me. I can’t stand it anymore.”

When the woman told her side of the story, I could feel the deep emotion in her words. “I’m not going to play the game any longer. For years people looked at me and said, ‘Everything is all right. She’s got the perfect life.’ But it’s not all right. It’s hasn’t been right for years.”

Now at last, after suffering in silence for too long, she has decided to get better. That’s a risky step because some of her friends won’t understand her decision. Sometimes people feel better if you just “grin and bear it” and pre­tend that life is rosy. That way no one has to worry about messy things like coming to grips with your past. Nice people play the game, even if things aren’t really so nice behind closed doors.

My friend said something that stuck in my mind. “Do you remember the story of Saul on the road to Dam­ascus? It hit me just like that. I can’t explain it other than to say that in one blinding moment of truth I saw myself. Since that moment everything has changed. There’s so much pain now that I feel overwhelmed. But I know that going through pain is the only way to grow.”

She’s right. Real growth only comes through pain. My friend who lost his job is learning that truth. So is my friend who decided not to play the game anymore.

Do you want to get better? You can, but you’ve got to go through pain to get there. To paraphrase the words of Jesus, the truth will set you free, but it will hurt you first. Or, to paraphrase Solomon, you may think you’re OK the way you are, but that’s not what matters. God starts with the heart and works from there. He searches and sifts and weighs your motives. Nothing escapes His pierc­ing glance. This is frightening at first, but then the heal­ing begins.


Search me, O God, and try my heart. See if there be any wicked way in me. Let the truth come out, even if it hurts. Amen.


How would you feel if the thoughts of your heart were revealed for everyone to see? What part of your heart would you like the Lord to search, sift, and heal right now?


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