“There are six things the LORD hates – no, seven things he detests . . . a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
~ Proverbs 6:16, 19
One sure way to destroy a friendship, alienate people, and cause division is to judge another person’s motives.
It’s perfectly fine to judge someone’s actions.
Lying about someone is wrong. Paying them a sincere compliment is good. Those are value judgments.
But to impute motives to their hearts is wrong and Scripture condemns it.
When someone says something like, “Tommy told that joke because he was trying to garner attention and is full of pride.”
Or . . .
“Candy wore that dress because she was trying to impress Rick.”
Or . . .
“Bill posted that update on his Facebook page because he was trying to make Andrea jealous.”
Or . . . “Tim said all of that in order to prove to himself that he’s better than his father” . . . they are attempting to read someone else’s heart.
The irony is that in many cases – if not most – the person who is ascribing a bad motive to another person is simply revealing what’s in their own hearts.
This is called “projection.” An individual cannot face their own shortcomings and defects so they unconsciously project them onto other people. They accuse others of the very same dark things that are lurking deep within their own hearts.
As I put it in another place,
In Matthew 7:1–4, Jesus points out that those with defective eyesight are all too willing to perform eye surgery on others. Yet within this text, the Lord makes this chilling assessment: If you impute an evil motive onto someone else, you’re simply making known what your motives are.
To put it another way, the piece of sawdust we see in our brother’s eye is simply a small chip off the two-by-four that lies within our own. And a piece of wood will always distort our vision. When people cannot face the reality of what’s in their own hearts, they project it onto others—particularly those who they find threatening to their egos. (Excerpted from Revise Us Again.)
To assume and disparage a person’s intentions is to sow seeds of discord and create division.
May we never judge someone’s motives, therefore.
Love always thinks the best. It never second-guesses or imputes evil. It always treats others the same way we want to be treated. And no one wants their motives judged.
Only God can peer into the human heart. So we are wise to leave such business in His hands.
Part IV tomorrow.