What Is the Motive of Your Heart?

By Kelly Russell


Love is in the air. Or is it?


You may have heard that the Bible is a love letter from God to all people. And it is. There is a scarlet ribbon woven through the text from Genesis to Revelation.


When the focus of scripture is turned to the subject of love, much can be gleaned. Undoubtedly, the most infamous passage on love is John 3:16 – “God so loved that world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

You can see right away that LOVE means GIVING. God gave the world the gift of His only Son. Yet this generous gesture is largely misunderstood.


Today’s culture leans more toward “getting” than “giving.”


There’s another well-known passage about love from 1 Corinthians 13. It starts out by saying that you can have all knowledge, power, and faith, but without love none of it matters.


The majority would disagree.


Those things are the substance of life, right? Well, not according to the Apostle Paul. The first two characters of love are to be patient and kind. The next two remind us that love cannot include envy or boasting. In other words, love doesn’t covet what other people have, nor does it does allow for arrogance of what you do have.


“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought…” Romans 12:3


And then the fifth characteristic of love is declared…


Jesus washing feet


Love is not proud.


Pride is taking, not giving. It’s self-righteousness instead of selflessness. Pride is looking in a mirror and seeing perfection where many flaws exist.


Love, by nature, is humble and compassionate. God hates pride. It’s what causes every human heart to be separated from His.


“…apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5


Pride elevates us over the One who created us (Luke 14:11). And when we operate with a prideful mindset, our human relationships crumble and our spiritual connection to God is broken. The beauty is that a surrendered will crushes a proud heart.


Some people walk in pride because they are blinded by Satan, who deceives them into thinking it’s a “right” mentality. Others do it because it was modeled for them and they simply follow suit. Still, some do it for power and authority.


But even in this, it’s often done out of fear of not being in control.


Pride is a 5-letter word. Biblical numerology explains that 5 is the number of G-R-A-C-E.


Pride and grace cannot dwell together. One always dethrones the other. But, through God’s gift of grace, hearts of pride are converted.


“When pride comes, then comes dis-grace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2


Grace + Humility = LOVE


But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6


Jesus himself said He came to serve, not to be served. He came to give, not get. Being the perfect example of humility, Jesus shows us that “U”-you always comes before “I”-me. And with pride, “I” is always in the middle.


What is love? Love is liberating. Love is joyful. Love is peaceful. Love unifies.


Pride is poison. It’s deceitful and dark. Pride divides.


Man, by nature, is full of pride and empty of love. Our human instinct is for self-gratification. Think of an infant or toddler…




Enough said.


If God would have His way, we outgrow the independent tendencies and learn to lean on His sufficiency. But if we make no change from our birth kingdom, our pride never dies.


“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Psalm 10:4


In order to love fully, we must experience the source of love – Jesus Christ. Love itself is not tangible, visible, or audible. But it IS the most powerful, life-changing attribute on the planet!


Consider this: both love and pride are gauged by motive. Where’s your focus: inward or outward? Self or others? Less or more? Wait or push? Silent or Boisterous? Last or first?


To sum it up, when Jesus is at the center of a relationship, LOVE is in control. If self dominates, a “cloud of the proud” settles in, obstructing your perspective.


It’s the presence of the sun that lifts the morning fog. And so it is with pride. The presence of the Son causes the foggy particles to dissolve.


Love is in the air only when God lives in the heart.



Kelly Russell


Kelly is a Payroll Analyst in the Finance Department at Christian Care Ministry. She serves with her husband, who is one of the pastors at Calvary Chapel Melbourne. Together their ministry focus is on small groups, marriage, and prayer.