If you did a survey of why people go to work each day, the No. 1 answer would probably be: to pay my bills. But there would be other answers, too, such as loving the kind of work one does, wanting to help others, and wanting to make progress in one's career.
It's likely that most people would prefer to be motivated by love for their work because love makes even dull tasks easier to do. Motives also determine outcomes and influence our actions.
The Bible is filled with accounts of people whose motives provide universal object lessons. Jacob's ambition to have the blessing that belonged to his brother led him to deceit. But after he was treated deceitfully by someone else, he gradually realized that he needed to change. Out of this desire came a willingness to understand and obey God, and as he turned without reservation to God as the only power and presence, many good things began to happen. He regained harmony not only with himself, but with his brother as well (see Genesis, chapters 27-33).
The change in his life was dramatic, illustrating that darkness leaves no aftereffects when the light of spiritual understanding enters. In the same way, wrong motives give place to right motives when we turn fully to good and are willing to trust God. This willingness removes any shadows of bitterness, sorrow, or guilt.
A woman who worked as a caregiver had to face this issue of motives. Because of pain in her hip that made it difficult for her to move, she had to stop work temporarily. But she was feeling overwhelmed with some pending expenses, and for some time had felt pressured to make money in order to pay them. That focus on working only for the money was overshadowing her deeper desire and purpose to express her God-given compassion, tenderness, and patience in her care for others.
In wrestling with these issues, she could see that as normal as it was to pay her bills, she couldn't allow fear, worry, and false responsibility about her finances to become a greater focus than her natural desire to express her identity as God's likeness in loving and caring for people.
Praying from the standpoint of being the pure child of God, she began to purify her motives, which lifted the burden somewhat. As her thoughts returned more to spiritual matters and to loving God and her caregiving work, she gained a greater freedom of movement, and she returned to work.
In the following days, she continued to pray, affirming that she was motivated only by the love of God, which was expressed in gentleness and selflessness, whether she was helping someone get around or whether she was feeding or bathing them. The pain slipped away. As she listened to God in prayer, unexpected sources of income opened up that enabled her to pay the expenses.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science and established this newspaper, knew the power of spiritual motives. In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" she wrote: "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action" (p. 454).
Motives always move thought in some direction, and right motives make sure the direction is progressive and the greatest blessing to everyone involved. Through prayer to God, we're better able to spiritualize our motives by bringing our thoughts and acts more in line with our real and only identity as His image and likeness. This naturally leads to seeing more of God's unchanging goodness for ourselves and others.
We can always ask what is moving us to act. Is it a thought from Love or a feeling of resentment? Is it the expression of divine Principle or human willfulness? Love or fear? When we're moved by Love, we're aligning ourselves with the spiritual source of our identity, which displaces wrong motives and brings to light our natural, God-bestowed goodness.