He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears. Isaiah 11:3

God told Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Samuel then anointed David who became a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

God isn’t like us. We look at the outward appearances, people’s actions and their words but God looks at people’s attitudes and their motives. On occasions when we do consider people’s motives, we often misinterpret them.

We may see someone helping someone or performing an act of apparent selflessness yet their motives could be to gain approval. Alternatively, we might see someone speaking thoughtlessly and yet their motives could be entirely pure. This is especially true with young Christians who may not have the maturity to behave in loving ways yet may have a Christ-like attitude.

There are times we are surprised or confused about the people God chose to use and work through. The Pharisees were surprised and asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11). It’s because God is more interested in our motives than our actions. He’s looking for those with a good heart, even if their actions fall short of expectation.

Furthermore, we rarely know the motives of other people, even those we know well. Therefore we need to be careful about forming conclusions based on a person’s actions. God, however, always knows a person’s motives. He knows them better than we know. We may think our intentions are pure but we don’t always recognise the underlying emotions that drive us.

God is the perfect Judge because he is omniscient.