Fresh Hope – 16th September 2020

In Acts 16 a slave girl followed Paul exclaiming, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved’. Appears to be truth doesn’t it? But her motives were off. Paul discerned the spirit behind the girl’s words and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!’ Sure enough, it came out. 

The girl was actually proclaiming truth, but it was rooted in evil! 

Motives matter to God. All through scripture God emphasises the heart. ‘Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7). Paul speaks about all the great, Godly things we can do like selling everything we have for the poor, outworking our spiritual gifts, having faith and wisdom, but not operating from a motive of love. When our ambition is ultimately self-seeking, the ‘godly’ stuff we are doing is just a loud, ugly noise to God (1 Corinthians 13:1). 

In the words of Kris Vallotton, ‘It is possible to sacrifice in selfishness, or serve to self-serve’. 

Don’t be fooled by people doing all the right things, ticking all the service boxes, and saying all the right stuff. The Bible says that a tree is recognised by its fruit (Matthew 12:33). Let the fruit in people’s lives be the telling of what is true and genuine. Do they operate in integrity in the unseen moments of their life? Is their private life fruitful? Is it a love for God and people that is compelling them or something else? 

We don’t need to have a critical approach towards people, but God has given us the ability to discern, through the Holy Spirit, to protect us. The Holy Spirit gives you the capacity to see through darkness and deceit. Watch out for noble acts done in the name of God, with an ungodly agenda. 

And may we too keep a pure heart in all that we do (Matthew 5:8). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.