The heart of the matter
We all have those moments in time when we just "feel" like doing something is going to be the right thing to do and we just go ahead with our plans. There are even time when we kind of suspect there might be a little "issue" with what we are doing, but then we go ahead anyway. Whenever we just move without fully thinking it through, or getting God's perspective on the matter, we are usually pretty disappointed with the results! There are times when we have duped ourselves into believing our actions are fully "justified" by the actions of another. It is like we are saying, "Well, he did this, so I did that" - thinking our actions are "made all right" because of the actions of another. If they don't think about the outcome of their actions that is one thing - but we have the responsibility to think about how our actions exemplify the heart of Jesus, so we may not want to respond without thinking things through!
People think that whatever they do is right, but the Lord judges their reason for doing it. (Proverbs 16:2 ERV)
It has been difficult for my mother to "give into" some of the limitations of aging, such as no longer being able to write her own checks or even know how much money she has in her wallet at one time. With her failing eyesight, she can no longer sign checks or many documents as she needs nearly 10 inches of space to even write out her name (and that is if she can remember how to spell it on any given day). The frustrations which come along with these changes make it "safer" and "easier" for me to just do them for her. The thing I have had to appreciate is that she still wants to know what it is I am doing "on her behalf". So, we sit regularly and discuss bills she has coming due, such as her dental insurance payment, or how much money she would like to have in her wallet for the week. I cannot assume it is "okay" for me to just do these things without appreciating these are things which concern her and involve her funds. I have to think about how my actions will affect her - although it would have been a whole lot quicker and easier to have just done it myself.
Whatever we do may not always be "right" - we have to look at the heart behind the actions. In my example above, managing mom's finances is really not a bad thing for mom, but doing it without respect for the fact she still cares about her finances and where her money is going would be. I have to possess the right motivation for doing what I am doing and she has to know I am not going to violate that trust she places in me. The heart behind our actions is what God is after, not just that the actions are "right". We can produce all kinds of "right" actions and still have a wrong "heart" behind them. I can pay my taxes, but bad mouth my government and criticize how those funds are spent. I can wave at my neighbors in a kindly fashion each morning, all the while cursing them under my breath for having a barking dog at night. I can say I love someone, but but be holding onto all manner of bitterness toward them for something they may not even realize they have done. You see, the action can be "right" while the heart behind it is not as "honorable" or "right".
God looks at the "reason" behind the action - the "heart" of the matter. As we have discussed before, all action stems from thought - thought being influenced by our "heart" as scripture defines "heart" as the seat of our emotions. Try as we might to "think" one way while our emotions are tied up in knots in the completely opposite direction, these two will not magically "align". What God wants to do is help us live "above" our emotions - not dependent upon them. We would probably be surprised to find out just how many of our actions throughout the day are totally based on some emotion we are feeling at the moment. For example, when someone interrupts you while you are trying to do some tough calculation or validate some details on a report, you might be a little frustrated (emotion). Your response can be to give them eye-contact, nod as they speak to you, but all the while you are thinking you'd like them to just go away. Your actions don't agree with your emotions, but God is after the emotion, not just the action. The response he would rather see is to remember the deadline you have on the report, but appreciate the importance of the relationship right in front of you - one is important - the other is valuable!
We have a tendency to focus on what we "feel" is important in our lives - God wants us to focus more on what he has declared to be valuable to him. We have a desire to put this right action together with that right action and see right results as the outcome. God wants us to put the right heart behind the actions, then watch him produce the outcome! Just sayin!