Hidden motives and agendas

How often have you caught yourself making a judgement about someone without knowing them or speaking to them? And conversely, how often have we been misjudged by others, with no opportunity to set the record straight?

Most of us operate from more than one motive. Something we do may be well intended or have a sound objective, but in the shadows lying behind that intention there could be a concealed motive – perhaps a need for acceptance or affirmation, power, or control. Even a desire to rescue and fix others may be more about our need than that of the other person. We often rush to make a judgement about something, or someone based on the flimsiest of information. We draw a conclusion without any examination of the facts and our actions are rarely totally selfless and perhaps there is sometimes another, more hidden agenda.

When I was a young believer, I was very impressed by a Christian lawyer who spoke at youth events. His one and only talk was about the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. He approached the subject as a lawyer would in court. He looked at the historical records of who Jesus was. He established his character as a fundamentally good person with peaceful, unselfish motives. He pieced together for his listeners (like he would for a jury) the events leading up to the crucifixion. He established dates, times and places. He cross-examined eyewitness accounts from those who saw what happened. He looked at who might have a motive to kill him, and he demonstrated that local political and religious leaders had hidden agendas and wanted to get rid of this man. Then he presented evidence for Jesus being alive after everyone had seen him die on the cross. He dismissed other theories about the resurrection as even more unbelievable than the true story. All in all, he painted a very convincing picture which I found really helpful. It strengthened my immature faith to know that there was ample evidence for belief, and this was not just a made-up story. And it taught me to beware of jumping to conclusions.

Jesus had no hidden agenda, but his enemies painted a false picture of him to satisfy their own inner motives and purposes. So, it’s interesting to see Paul in these verses in 1 Corinthians Ch 4 declaring that ultimately God is the arbiter of innocence or guilt.

1 Cor 4: 3 – 5  It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much. The Master makes that judgement.

So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgements before the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out into the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of – inner motives and purposes and prayers. (The Message)

It seems that the believers in the early church were very quick to make judgements and Paul encourages them to learn some restraint. I think the point to draw from this is to be transparent in the things we say or do and beware of any hidden agenda we may have.

Image credit: Nathan Bingle via Unsplash