Outward Actions Are Not Always Inward Motives

Have you been quick to judge?  I think we have all found ourselves in a situation where we’ve judged  someone’s actions based on our perception at the moment without knowing their motive.  On one hand we should be loving, forgiving, and non-judgmental towards each other.  But, on the other hand we must make careful evaluations of a situation in order to draw wise conclusions.  Here’s an illustration to show you what I mean.

Suppose you are walking down a crowed city street.  From a distance you see a long- time friend walking towards you.  A smile comes to your face as you are certain they see you as well.  You pick up your steps to a quicker pace so you can reach them pressing through the sea of people who are also focused and making their way to their destinations.  You get closer to your friend, and they turn their head and cross over to the other side of the street as you call out their name.  They continue to walk away and not even respond to your greeting.  Immediately, you begin to feel the sting of rejection.  Your mind is filled with thoughts of, “What’s their problem?  Are they mad at me? Have I done something wrong to offend them?  That was stuck up!”

We are prone to judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves.  We know why we do certain things and act in certain ways.  However, we do not know the true motive behind the actions of others.  Suppose that same friend was quickly trying to get somewhere and running late.  Traffic was horrendous that morning and the parking garage had only one space left at the top.  Their mind was on the presentation they were committed to give at work.  They should have been there thirty minutes earlier to set up.  Do you see how you could have misunderstood the actions of your friend?  Your perceived your friend saw you.  Your friend was lost in their hectic morning and was totally oblivious to the fact that you even called their name out.

I understand the assumption of, “If something looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, then it must be a duck.” However, we do not know people’s intentions.  So, we judge by behavior.  We know our intentions.  Therefore, we cut ourselves some slack.  Ouch!

Ask yourself, how are your actions and behaviors judged by others. It may be true that you have pure motives and a good heart, but if your outward actions demonstrate otherwise, you can cause confusion and hurt.  Others hear what you say and see what you do. If those two aspects do not match up, then others will misjudge your actions each time.

If you are tempted to make a judgement this week based on someone’s actions, take this tip to heart. May this serve as a reminder that outward actions and inward motives are two different things. You will be all the wiser to seek understanding of both before making your final evaluation.  Let’s keep growing and going.  It’s a good time to be you!

Peace and Joy,


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