At times, we are presented with individuals who seem to have an "ulterior motive" in their actions. In other words, what is presented is really a "mask" for something being done to deceive the individual on the receiving end of the action. One thing is said, another is meant. One thing is done, but the intention behind it is completely contrary to the "appearance". This is dangerous ground for us - simply because we really don't know what to expect, or when to trust.
8 Mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road. (Proverbs 21:8 The Message)
We would probably call an "ulterior" motive a "second motive" - one which is usually a little selfish in nature. The end result is a life in tangles! Not my idea of where I want to be living! In fact, when I am faced with these kind of individuals, I tend to pull back from relationship with them - simply because I cannot trust their intentions and they have a tendency to "complicate" my life!
Don't get me wrong - I don't always have the purest motives! I just try my best not to purposely work in the realm of "secret" or "hidden" agendas! God is perfectly aware of our "hidden" motives - those we'd call "selfish" in nature. Like the times we ask God to bless us with a new car and what we are really saying is, "God, I don't like the one you have already blessed me with!"
People who purposefully set out to deceive by their actions leave the lives of those they touch in a mess of tangles. In fact, they are never free from the tangles themselves - because any life of deception requires a whole lot of effort to keep up the facade of untruths used to mask the reality of what lies just beneath the surface! I think these are the individuals Solomon was "aiming at" in the verse above - those who hide their guilt behind a facade.
Pure motives keep you on a straight path. God understands our "bent" toward selfish motives, but he expects as we become aware of them, we will hurriedly lay them at the foot of the altar and have them changed by the touch of his grace. If we are finding our life caught up in a jumble of tangles as a result of the deceptiveness of our actions and thoughts, we might need some altar time to untangle the mess we've created!
In examining the word "tangle", I found it not only relates to the mess of inter-twisted parts, but also to be caught or held in a trap or snare. Mixed motives actually entrap us - snaring us in their grip. There is a hampering effect which occurs anytime the motives we choose to obey are those which are not pure in nature. They hamper our growth, relationships, and even our access to God. Perhaps this is why God places such emphasis on purity of heart! His goal is to never have anything keeping us from straight-forward, immediate, and unhindered access to him!
Mixed motives deceive - pure motives open the doors of trust. Mixed motives ensnare - pure motives allow freedom in relationship. Mixed motives will overgrow if never checked! We need to be constantly examining our motives - not in light of our own perceptions - but in the light of the Cross. The Cross exposes what is just beneath the surface - hidden though it might have been - revealing exactly what it is we are "covering over". Never forget...at the altar - we are altered. Never "under-value" the time you spend at the altar of God's grace!