Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure—you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts. Psalm 7:9

We want God to bring to an end the violence of the wicked and for the righteous to be secure. We want God to step into our world and fix it right now. Bring justice to the wicked and achieve freedom from strife for the righteous. We want peace but God wants pure motives. God, we discover, is more interested in our motives than in our comfort. This is not a happy thought! God will allow unpleasant circumstances because he’s purifying our motives.

Mostly we don’t even think about our motives. We don’t consider why we favour one course of action over another. We make decisions that seem so obvious to us that we assume that anyone in our position would make the same ones. I heard the story of two sons born to an alcoholic father. One became a teetotaller and the other an alcoholic. When asked how these lifestyle choices happened, both replied, “With a father like mine, what would you expect?”

Same circumstances, different outcomes because of the motives and attitudes of the people involved. We’re more unique than we realize. What really motives us? On what basis do we make choices? What are we hoping to gain? Normally we only examine our motives when we have a problem, when something isn’t working out the way we expect, which is perhaps God’s intention. However, motives aren’t easy to identify. David prayed: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).

When it comes to issues of the heart we need God’s help to probe our mind and heart so that he can purify our motives.