What's that I see?
We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives. (Pr. 21:2)
I can honestly way that we sometimes spend far more time working to show ourselves as good, or as justified in what we do, than in trying to change what it is we are doing. We want to be free from blame or guilt that might be associated with our actions or thoughts, but really don't rise above the wrong ones as much as we'd like to. What is worse is that we look at the actions of another and we begin to form judgments about that individual based solely upon their actions. The problem: we are making evaluation of that individual by what we see on the outside. We evaluate the activities of man, thinking we know the motives based on the actions that we see revealed - but I think we can also be totally truthful here - it is almost impossible for us to know the motives of another.
It is pretty clear to me that actions do not always align with motives. This is why God looks closer at the motives of our heart than the activities we engage in. In fact, he told us he'd rather have their worship - stemming from a grateful heart - than any measure of sacrifice. Our motives are those inner drives, or impulses, that lead to action on our part. God knows the specific reason for our actions - man does not, although he tries to by means of 'analysis' and 'patterns' which are manifested frequently enough. They call this profiling in the law enforcement community. Yet, we all know a 'profile' is just a guess - it is not always going to be spot on. So, the lesson for us: Don't rely on appearances! We may find ourselves in a position of mis-judging someone and then be guilty of forming very incorrect opinions about their actions.
The important thing for us to remember is that "mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road." Since God pays such close attention to our motives, it would be wise to ask him to keep us on track with those motives. When our motives are selfish, we make choices that are self-serving and "anti-Christlike" in appearance. If he knows our motives, it is also possible he has the way to help us change them from the inside out - so that our appearance matches our motives! Pure, pollution-free, motives get at the heart of right choices - when we are influenced by motives that are tainted by any form of self, we make wrong choices. Those wrong choices lead to wrong paths in our daily walk - inconsistencies in our choices. It is when we are on those wrong paths that we appear to "walk alone". God wants us on paths that don't lead to our destruction - involved in things that just end up tying us up in "knots" on the inside!
Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived, can ever get the better of God. Clever stuff is the kind of stuff that is "thought to be smart", but often proves to be far from intelligent when put to the test (in fact, it usually is kind of dumb). We will do well to remember that our own intelligence pales when compared to the omniscience of our God. We may think our clever plans are "all that", but God knows the skills we possess are made by him alone and are only worth their full value when used for his purposes! Conceived things are those things that we allow to form in our minds, or imagine in our hearts, that may not even be true or accurate. They can be tainted by the view of life we have at the moment. We don't even know the motives of our own heart, let alone the motives of another. When we put "faith" in the in the imaginations of our mind, we may be selling ourselves, or another, totally and completely short. Contrived thoughts are unreliable - they are devised without much attention to outcome. Our thoughts, at best, are "one-sided" - they need the filtering of the Holy Spirit so they become balanced, reliable, and trustworthy.
Our thoughts, as flawed as they are, can be instruments God uses to bless others, but we have to allow them to be energized by God. No matter how creative we are in our own self-thought / self-taught manner, we can never be as clearly thinking as we'd like to be - we need God's help to keep clarity in our thoughts and mixed motives out of our actions. Just sayin!