Wisdom is first of all pure. Purity is foundational to what we do, and purity starts with surrender to God’s standards—the word “confession” means agreeing with Him, that is being of the same mind with God on what is right and what is wrong.
Purity starts, I believe, primarily in our motives. If our motives are impure, that taints all that follows. As one of my friends is fond of saying, wisdom is doing the right thing, for the right motives, in the right way, at the right time. All else may be right, but if the motives are wrong that can negate all the other good.
For instance, a teen-age boy faithfully attends every meeting at church, including prayer meeting. He is doing the right thing at the right time in the right way. But, since his motive for being there is hit on the girls, it negates ever other good aspect—and ruins it for others, too. Motives are important.
In my own life, I’ve found that in any decision I make there are usually mixed motives: negative ones, neutral ones, good ones.
In making an important decision, it has proven very profitable to sit down and write out before God the motives from which I want to make this decision. As I give the Holy Spirit time to work, He often brings out motives I was unaware of. It is important to be honest here, as we naturally tend to hide, even from ourselves, the negatives that drive us. To name them takes courage and commitment to truth.
After listing out my motives, I can evaluate these in the light of Scripture, agreeing with God on whether a motive is right or wrong or neutral. Then in prayer I specifically reject the negative and neutral motives (naming each before God), and commit to act only out of biblically sound motives.
For instance, in wanting to be on time for meetings, I have the following motives.
1. I want to be more effective for God.
2. I want to be a good example to others.
3. I want to respect their time.
4. I want to be comfortable and unrushed.
5. I want them to think well of me.
The first three motives are positive, the fourth is what I would call neutral, more focused on self than on pleasing God. The last one is definitely negative, being basically fear of man. I had to confess the neutral and negative motives as wrong, rejecting them, and determine to act out of the positive, purer motives.
This bringing of our motives into the light of God’s presence and purifying them with the water of the Word means we are joining God in what He is doing rather than striking out on our own and thereby making ourselves vulnerable to attacks by the enemy. Pure motives put us on the right track and provide us with protection.