A Quiet Wood

A Quiet Wood

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I am struck today by the thought that, as scripture says, "the heart is deceitful above all things...". I know that the verse goes on to say that it is desperately wicked. I know this passage is referring to an unregenerate heart; however, I also believe that even after we have been purified by faith, the human heart (actually the mind) can trick us. It happened to me recently -- today actually. I allowed my selfish desires to be cloaked in what appeared to me as genuine altruism -- really wanting to help someone else. Happily for me, what I wanted to do to help was actually extremely beneficial to myself. In hindsight, it probably wasn't that helpful to the other person and actually probably hurt them a bit. However, at the time I convinced myself that my motives were unselfish ones. I know that one can over analyze one's motives. I tend to be gifted in that area. However, sometimes I think it's good to stop and think about how my actions affect others. Am I being truly kind, or am I just getting what's good for me? *Alert* Don't over think this. I don't believe God intends for us to be paranoid -- just careful. Any thoughts?


Toots said...

When I posted about being dishonest with myself, knowing myself, etc., I was very much trying to say what you hit on the head. At one point, in my younger years, I thought that if I had complete the two "works", everything was taken care of...that I wouldn't even have the potential to be self-serving. It was astonishing to find out that I still had the ability to say one thing and do another, being dishonest with MYSELF. I think you're right that it is within the mind. Our heart is set to do what is right as true believers. We just have to work through understanding things, probably will throughout life. Appreciate your insight.

Tara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz said...

Yeah . . . how God continues to clean out the cobwebs in our lives. The little dust bunnies under the bed . . . I could tend to over-analyze as well, but I have been blessed by continuing to surrender each "little" unselfish motive that He unveils.

Sharlyn said...

Praying for Tara right now.

I love to read your insights. I have been chewing on this coneept a bit myself. I think that, to a point, most actions have a selfish motive--and maybe, just maybe, that's God's method of getting us to use our gifts. Much like a parent lets a kid earn his allowance by doing his chores.
I don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying the satisfaction of using your gifts approriately.
I think the issue is about pride and seeking to exalt ourselves instead of Jesus.
I also think that at times we tend to assume more and more responsibilities until we are spread too thin to be effective. All this done under the guise of "serving" when we just enjoy feeling needed or haven't developed the skill of saying NO.
That's my two-cents worth and mostly stuff I needed to hear.
Good topic.

Kimberly said...

No profound thoughts here, but "knowing" oneself is usually a tricky and humbling business. And sometimes our culture (general and church) can encourage a wallowing in self examination, so a balance must be found. (i KNOW that's not what you're talking about here) I think the "checking" must come from Him..not us..and it's a good thing He's merciful!

Kimberly said...

OK I'm paranoid..OF COURSE I believe we have a role in "checking" ourselves..but always realizing the strength and impulse are from Him..have I muddied the waters more?!

kayla said...

Thanks for your honesty, lets me know that I can trust your heart.

Marty said...

Great thought provoking subject on this Monday morning! I pray that I will be extra careful this week! Thank you for your openess in your walk with Christ. It is an encouaragement to me!

Kelly S said...

Thanks Sonya for being vulnerable and open with us and sharing your thoughts. I like to think of it as though God is "fine-tuning us". It's not easy to readily recognize and confess this kind of thing - but I think it's all part of being sanctified that makes us have such a sweet/tender spirit as you have.

I often pray and tell God that I want to walk close enough to him that when he has something such as this to show me, I will be open enough to hear the gentle instruction of the holy Spirit. I know I'm constantly quoting this verse, but it's my favorite..."I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go, I will guide thee with mine eye". He is faithful!

Juwah said...

It doesn't seem too spiritual to quote a philosopher(I can't remember if this quote was made by Plato, Socrates, or Aristotle), but here it goes, "An unexamined life is not worth living." I have found this statement to be so true. It does me no good to feel good about something, if in fact it is serving to encourage faults in me while not serving others. I remind myself often that sometimes the right action with the wrong motive is still the right action. But, the motive has to change or no matter how right the action is, it doesn't please God, and in the end could be damaging. There's my 2 cents, for what they are worth. I appreciate your honesty, it's good to have friends who help keep us accoutable and honest.

Juwah said...

N - this was the "n" I forgot in accountable.


The Lazy Philosopher said...

I have frequently and occasionally heatedly discussed this very topic with various members of my family. And we have almost as many different viewpoints as we have family members.
I tend towards the view which some members of my family (SETH!) call cynical. That consciously or not, all of our apparently altruistic actions are based on some level of personal gain. I even blogged about it a while back.
My viewpoint does have one flaw though, I tend to think that I can and do act with pure motives. Maybe not all the time, but I like to think that most of my service is rendered honestly and unreservedly. But I am honest with myself. Even those actions which may appear altruistic to others can be selfishly motivated, and I never try to fool myself that they are anything else. Though I admittedly do not generally announce to the world when my motives are slightly less than pure.

Toots said...

I can't leave this one alone. (lazy philosopher) Sonja, I hope you don't mind!

I have no idea who you are, so please don't take this personally. I'm debating your ideas not attacking your person. You are free to do the same with my ideas. I don't hold to them as identity. I am a seeker of truth, and I and don't have an agenda.

With regard to your comment:

You can't have it both ways if you accept that there is truth to be had and are truly honest about it. What is your position?

First, you say "all of our apparently altruistic actions are based on some level of personal gain..."

Then you switch to "I tend to think that I can and do act with pure motives. Maybe not all the time, but I like to think that most of my service is rendered honestly and unreservedly..."

Next, you take your original position "Even those actions which may appear altruistic to others can be selfishly motivated, and I never try to fool myself that they are anything else."

I believe the Apostle Paul speaks to this when he writes about our responsibility to "renew our minds", "die daily...", etc. Yes, on our own, we are motivated by self-interests, but once we have humbled ourselves before God, and begun a trusting relationship with Him (through Jesus--God, in the flesh), we are made new. As we remain surrendered to Him, we renew our mind with each choice we make, exchanging the natural (flesh) motivations for the (spirit) Christ-like motivations. This life-long process begins with a heart's desire and choice, which consequentially changes one thought and action at a time, then our habits are made new, and as we mature in our walk with Him, our nature reflects Him more and more, so that we become a "Well-spring of Life", because He flows through our fragile vessels.

I contend that Jesus doesn't leave us in a self-centered, hopeless condition!

~Heather~ said...

I loved Julia's "N" comment...how crazy!

Good post Sonya, am glad that God checks us and is merciful to us...and that we don't have to go around "Checking our temperature" so to speak, but that when HE speaks, and helps...we are ever so glad that He cared enough to do so. He's the Best Heavenly Father!

Love, Heather =)

Kelly S said...

I'd like to add to this that when we realize we've hurt someone, even if unintentionally, it's important to make apologies - especially if we've belittled someone or made them look bad in other's eyes. This is very hard to do, but I've made it a practice in my life.

I can think of two people specifically in my life that have come to me NUMEROUS times (after getting up from the alter) and apologize, saying that they had said something unkind or untrue about me, etc. After multiple alter trips and apologies, I finally said to them that I didn't think their conscious was getting cleared and this was reoccuring because they needed to go back and make it right with the people they said it too.

If I know I'm going to have to make it right and apologize, it makes me think twice before something unkind comes out of my mouth!

I think everyone makes mistakes like this and most times unintentionally, but Lord help ME to be tender enough to make restitutions when needed!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone for your two cents -- actually some of your thoughts were worth much more! It's nice to be part of a community of believers with like faults and foibles. Hard to believe that when you see us on Sunday morning, huh? Oh well, God save us from our facades. :) Thanks again!

OK, before I am taken to task, I know that sometimes it's appropriate to have our Sunday morning faces on. To wear all of one's feelings and emotions on one's sleeve is extremely inappropriate. So, yes, I know that.