Have you ever had someone out of left field question your motives? You think you are doing the right thing and your heart is in the right place. Then, suddenly someone accuses you of lying or being selfish or not working hard enough. We feel attacked and vulnerable. Perhaps we feel anger or even shame when our motives are questioned.
We know in our heads that the other person is wrong. When we calm down, we know that the accusation is more about the other person’s heart than our own.
David, whom God describes as a man after God’s own heart, had his motives questioned – and by someone who was family.
“Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumptions and the evil in your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 1 Samuel 17:28-29
David, the youngest of all his brothers, was assigned the task of tending to the sheep. His eldest three brothers were off to serve in Saul’s army. David’s dad, Jesse, sent David to take supplies to his brothers and to check on them.
Can you imagine the excitement of a young man getting a reprieve from the fields to go check out the excitement at camp? He was going to visit his three oldest brothers. I wonder if he wanted the approval of his big brothers just as little brothers do today?
Motives are Questioned Regarding God’s Honor
David arrives at camp in time to hear Goliath make fun of the Almighty God. Evidently, every day for the last forty days, the giant of a man had come out from the camp to challenge the Israelites. FORTY LONG DAYS. David, with all the idealism of youth, proclaims: “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (1 Samuel 17:26)
Perhaps this is what Jesus means when he lifts up child-like faith? David BELIEVES in God. He believes in the stories of his ancestors and how God has worked on their behalf. He has not yet been jaded by suffering. He has not listened to Goliath for 39 days and wondered why no one has stepped forward.
There is another lesson here about listening to lies day after day and the effect on your spirit. There is also a lesson here about choosing the people who you do life with? Are they like David or are they ones to wait and watch for another?
David’s Motives are Questioned by His Big Brother
David’s big brother just dressed him down. And for what? David was just defending the honor of God, but his brother accused him of doing evil.
What are you doing here? Why are you neglecting your responsibilities?
Get back in your place, Eliab criticizes David. People grow comfortable even in their sin. They do not want the new person, with a fresh perspective, disrupting their lives even if it for their good. In our sin, we will criticize others just because they make us uncomfortable.
Why is Eliab Angry and Questioning David’s Motives?
Eliab is angry that he was passed over.
In the chapter before this one, the prophet Samuel came to Eliab and David’s house looking to anoint a new king for Israel. Jesse proudly called his sons to gather. As the eldest, everyone would have assumed that Eliab would be chosen.
He was not. He was passed over. His next brother was passed over. The next one was passed over too. Finally, Samuel has Jesse sent for the youngest who was still out in the fields. When David arrived, he was anointed to be the next king over Israel: “in the midst of all of his brothers.” With the youngest being chosen over the oldest, a seed of jealousy was planted.
Eliab is angry that Goliath keeps taunting them.
Who wants to be taunted by their enemy day after day? The frustration over the daily harassing and bullying would build and build. Yet, no one is acting.
Sometimes when we are angry and frustrated about a situation, we start looking for others to blame. Why aren’t others sticking up for me? Why am I not sticking up for myself? The anger can build in ourselves until it gets poured out on someone who does not deserve it.
What would have happened if all those emotions of anger, frustration, and fear had been poured out to God? What would have happened if those soldiers had spent their time singing praises to God to drown out Goliath’s voice?
Eliab is angry that his youngest brother is pointing out their weakness.
David never said a word to Eliab. David didn’t call out his brother for not taking action. David was making an appeal to all of the men of Israel. But for Eliab – in stepped directly on his toes.
Ever felt like a sermon one Sunday was written just with you in mind? This is the power of the Bible and the Holy Spirit. This is also why my husband, who is a pastor, plans his sermon scriptures months to a year in advance.
Your right, your vulnerability, your service will sometimes upset other people because they have things in their life that they are not proud of doing. Many times, the weakness in ourselves we are most likely to blow out of proportion the tiny speak of it that we see in others.
Examine your heart with humility but do not back down from what God has called you to do. Pray for those who question your motives. Pray for their awareness and healing.
Eliab is full of shame.
Eliab’s anger, his resentment, and his frustration- all come from a place of shame.
Brene Brown defines shame as the difference between I did a bad thing and I am a bad person. When we are in a place of shame, we feel that we are being accused of being a bad person. Our emotional reactions are quick and powerful. We may respond in ways we aren’t proud of because those emotions cloud our judgment.
Eliab questions David’s emotions because of his own shame.
He is ashamed that he was passed over. He is ashamed that he has listened to Goliath point out his weakness and lack of faith for 40 days. He is ashamed that his little brother had the courage to say something about it. Eliab thinks he can stop those feelings of shame by shutting David up.
When someone questions your motives, it is often not about you at all but about their shame. Getting them to understand that may never happen. You understanding that …can make all the difference for your heart.
When Motives are Questioned, Do we know what is in Someone Else’s Heart?
David’s big brother claims to know what is in David’s heart. Frankly, I don’t think we always know what is in our own hearts. We don’t always take the time to ponder what we make the choices that we make and why do we react to things the way we do. We get into patterns of behavior with our children, with our spouses, with our parents – that we sometimes wish that we could change. Occasionally, we have the courage and perseverance to make those changes.
God Knows Our Motives
Thankfully God searches our hearts and knows us. Our real motives are known to God always for good. If our motives are pure, we know that the One whose opinion really matters knows. If our motives are bad, then we know that we can go to God for healing and forgiveness.
“O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” Psalm 4:2-3
If you act in godly ways and walk in the paths of righteousness, people will lie about you. In this world where evil abounds falseness will be spread. Even by those who claim to follow Jesus, your character will wrongly be called into question. It hurts, especially when it is by those who are like family. Take heart in that even David knew this pain.
Have you ever had someone lash out at you in anger?
When we have our motives questioned and someone lashes out at us in anger, we can wonder where God is and why is He allowing this to happen.
What purpose is served here, Lord? Why are these lies allowed to stand? Why am I suffering for doing good? These questions can be especially painful when we know that these lies negatively affect others beyond just ourselves.
Jesus knows what it is like to have your motives questioned. He knows what it is likely to serve others and have the religious leaders call your motives into question. He knows what it is like to do the will of the Father and have someone question your faithfulness. He suffering the pain of their lies and falsehoods on the cross.
God knows the Truth & God’s glory will win out
In the end, the truth will triumph. In the end, the lies against Christ did not hold him in the grave. In the end, his glory will be fulfilled when every tongue confesses and every knee bows before him.
The Lord will fight for you. His timing might not be your timing. You might know more of Christ’s sufferings than you would like. Persevere.
When someone questions your motives, humbly examine your heart. It is an opportunity to grow closer to God and to become more faith. It is an opportunity to grow in compassion for others and to seek healing for them in prayer.
Yet, do not shrink from your call because of their shame! Be bold and courageous. Take up the shield of faith and fighting the lies and schemes of the Devil.
David had to struggle with more than just his big brother. Learn more about David’s story in How to React When Someone Questions Your Call.