Identifying the Why

Behind every action, there is a thought. One of the theoretical counseling methods I utilize most is the Cognitive Behavioral framework. This idea states that our thinking directs our behaviors. If you can change the thought, the behaviors change also.

I believe this is scriptural. Paul states that we need to renew our minds (Rom 12:2) and he also instructs us to think on what is lovely, true, pure, and righteous (Phil 4:8). When our thoughts are on truth and the Word of God, then peace and contentment can abound even amid adverse circumstances.

While we do not often go throughout our day asking ourselves why we do things, it is imperative to implement this strategy to gain clarity on our motives. What is a motive? It is the reason why we do what we do. There are six motives that are addressed.

-First, obedience to the Lord. You and I may go to church because we feel we should. We might pray with someone because we are directed by the Lord.
-Second, out of love for the Lord. You might help someone because you know the Lord has helped you and you want to give back.
-Third, out of love for people. You might volunteer at the hospital because you know what people are going through and you just want to love on them.
-Fourth, and here is where it turns negative, out of selfish gain. You might teach that bible study because you want the attention.
-Fifth, out of selfish ambition. You might go to graduate school because you want to make more money or climb up the ladder of success.
-Sixth, for approval from others. You might bake the cake so others will accept you. There is a fear of rejection so you say yes when you would rather say no.

While this list is not exhaustive, I pray it helps you begin to ask yourself the why question. It would be fantastic if all our motives were from the first three listed. However, this is not reality. The goal here is not to bring condemnation, guilt, or shame. It is to help you identify why you do things. If the reason is not godly, then alter your thoughts accordingly. Take the other motives to the Lord and ask Him to help you adjust your thinking. Trust me, He has been waiting for you to come to Him with this request. How do I know that? Because His desire is that His children love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind and secondly, love others (Matt 22:37-40).

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