What is the motive?

That's what Hanun wanted to know. His father, the king of Ammon, had died, and Hanun was unsure of the realm reason King David's servants were now arriving. Hanun's adviers were suspicious. They saw a sinister motive. Maybe these men were spies intending to harm the Ammonite people.

Unfortunately, Hanun accepted the opinion of his advisers. As it turned out, they were wrong. King David had sent his servants on a humanitarian mission. Hanun's father had been kind to David, and now this delegation was coming to comfort the Ammonites. But Hanun humiliated them and sent them away. n1

n1 See II Samuel 10

Do we ever get tangled up with Hanun's kind of thinking? Now and then it's tempting to question the motives of those who've done something for us, or to us. Not that we shouldn't use some wisdom in the way we deal with others. Obviously we don't want to be naive about acts or intentions that would harm us or our interests. But there's quite a difference between being wisely alert on the one hand, and on the other going through life with a sort of conspiratorial suspicion: seeing something sinister or unkind or self-serving in all that others do.

This kind of outlook can rob us of the joy and trust that come with a healthy sharing of life with others. If Hanun had been a little more discerning, he wouldn't have insulted those servants and gone on to build up his army with Syrians -- all of which led to war with David. A lot of bloodshed could have been avoided. Although King David was the victor, he undoubtedly would have felt better had his motives been rightly assessed in the first place. In a word , there were losers all the way around.

What can we do to reshape and strengthen our capacity to evaluate accurately just how others are viewing things? Perhaps an important beginning is to move away from acting or reacting on the basis of fear or suspicion. Those elements of mortal thinking are loaded with distortions; and they are not natural to our God-given being. Actually, true consciousness, the ability to know, comes right from divine Love. The more we learn of man as the offspring of God, as pure and good, the more we'll appraise motives from a spiritual standpoint.

Is this unrealistic? Especially when there are times on the international scene -- or, for that matter, the employment scene or even the matrimonial scene -- when others might not have the best of intentions? It's not at all impractical. In fact a spiritual approach is highly realistic.

An important reason for starting with the spiritual premise, with a recognition that man is the expression of God, is that we're much better able to discern the motives of others. Hanun depended on a very limited resource -- personal opinion. We can more and more trust God to reveal a proper response to the statements and actions directed our way.

But of even greater importance is the fact that when we start from the premise that man is made in God's image, we glimpse a brand-new view of what it is that actually motivates man at the deepest level. "Christian Science reveals Truth and Love as the motive-powers of man," n2 explains Mary Baker Eddy. n3 She gives here a profound spiritual fact. Obviously, mortals are sometimes motivated by evil impulses; yet the eternal truth is that man's real identity has purely spiritual motivation.

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 490

n3 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

An understanding of that ultimate truth releases a healing impact on human circumstances. When we see the truth clearly enough, it preserves the integrity of our own motives. And it does more. It serves as a healing influence toward those who are making decisions toward those who are making decisions about how they may view us or act toward us.

When we are deeply inspired with the Christly conviction that man is motivated by God, we won't make Hanun's mistake. Instead we will be more perceptive; and we will also stimulate a healing atmosphere that embraces and helps purify the attitude of those we deal with.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was move with compassion toward them, an d he healed their sick. Matthew 14:14

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