When Motives Turn Wicked - The Warrior's Journey®

When Motives Turn Wicked

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God) – then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.” (Mark 7:11-12) 

In 1902 a Methodist minister, Reverend Edgar J. Helms, founded what would become Goodwill Industries as a ministry to help the poor.  Today Goodwill has grown to become an international nonprofit network, made up of 164 independent organizations in 15 different nations.  It provides job training to more than six million people annually. 

But lately Goodwill is taking on the form and attitude of a huge money-making corporation – more than $5.37 billion annually. One sign of this trend expressed itself in Sarasota, Florida.  There the local Goodwill Store sought to use the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration as a money-making venture – but in the worst possible way. The Goodwill Store encouraged the spurned, broken-hearted, and embittered lovers of Sarasota to get revenge on their Ex.  How?  By donating their Ex’s belongings to the Sarasota Goodwill Store.  Of course, by doing so, they also encourage your Ex to retaliate against them. And they certainly kill any hope for reconciliation.   

This is not unlike the way the party of the Pharisees began well – as an effort to keep God’s people from disobeying His commandments. They developed what they called a “hedge around the Law.” This consisted of many additional rules to keep God’s people from even coming close to violating the Law. Before long, however, the Pharisees placed greater importance upon their rules than upon the Scripture itself.   

Eventually they added rules that actually undermined God’s Law. One example of this is cited by Jesus here in Mark 7. This rule provided a way for a disgruntled son could exact revenge on his parents. If a son wanted to withhold his resources from his parents – yet maintain his honor – he could simply earmark his wealth for God by simply declaring them “Corban” – set aside as a gift for God. This way the Pharisees would profit from an angry son’s ill will toward his parents – like the Goodwill store that sought to profit from a spurned lover’s anger toward their Ex. But in doing so they nullified God’s word (esp. “Honor thy father and thy mother”) and defeated their original purpose. 

Any good and charitable work can turn sinister when its motives are corrupted. Jesus Christ will judge our works based upon our motives for doing them (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). We would all do well to be as concerned about the purity of our hearts as the Pharisees were about the purity of their hands.   


  • If Jesus looked into your heart, would He be pleased at what He sees? 
  • Are you motivated out of love for others or by your desire to please God? 
  • Let’s pray that prayer of David in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, …” 

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