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What's my motivation?


The Life Less Traveled


February 29, 2012
They say you never get a second chance at a first impression. My friend Eric might just agree, but the whole misunderstanding was really our friend Dal's fault to begin with.

See, both Dal and Eric love sports, and both subscribe to Sports Illustrated, which, as you probably know, publishes their annual swimsuit issue every February. Dal was flipping through Sports Illustrated one night when he saw a blurb announcing the fact that you can now actually opt out of receiving the swimsuit issue. You even get the issue credited to your account and everything.

Let me just digress by saying this is a brilliant move by Sports Illustrated. It allows them to not alienate their female readers by sending them unrealistic pictures of supermodels in bikinis, and it also allows them to keep their male subscribers who don't just love sports but also love God, their wives and their kids.

Now back to Dal. He was so excited when he read about the Sports Illustrated deal that he called our friend Eric right up and told him the news. Eric happened to be riding his stationary bike at the time, completely out of breath as he finished his fourth mile. This would have been no big deal except Eric decided to call Sports Illustrated right away.

So, just imagine this guy, gasping and panting, when the poor Sports Illustrated operator answered the phone.

"Sports Illustrated, may I help you?"

Heavy breathing. "Yeah, I'm calling about the swimsuit issue." Gasp. Wheeze.

Suffice it to say that even though he meant well, Eric did not make the best first impression. I think he's just lucky she didn't just hang up on him or call the police.

You're probably not as dumb as me and my friends, but have you ever had someone misjudge your motives? Have you ever been trying to do the right thing, only to have it blow up in your face?

Maybe you offered someone advice about a relationship or their job, but it didn't go so well. Now, suddenly you're the bad guy. Or maybe you were minding your own business, just doing your best in life, but now somehow someone else's are all your fault. If only you were a better spouse, boss or parent, then they wouldn't be in the jam they're facing. At least that's how they see it. From your point-of-view, however, all you've ever done is try to help them.

If you've ever had your motives questioned, you're in good company. When David started asking around the battlefield about why no one was willing to stand up to Goliath, his brother accused him of being conceited and wicked. When Jesus reached out to the marginalized and the poor, the religious leaders accused Him of being in league with the devil. When the apostle Paul starting telling the world that Jesus came to give everyone access to God, people tried to kill him time and time again.

Maybe that's why the Bible is so down on being judgmental and jumping to conclusions. It basically says to leave the judging to God because, ultimately, He will expose the motives of men's hearts. He's the only one who really understands them anyway.

If you get off on the wrong foot with someone, don't sweat it. Eventually, God will reveal your true character and heart to those who need to see it. As for the rest, their opinion doesn't really matter anyway. You already have a Dad in heaven who knows where you're coming from. Of course, you might want to give your accuser the benefit of the doubt, too. After all, you're no more of an expert on their motives as they are on yours.

So, if you happen to be an operator for Sports Illustrated and take a call from a guy on an exercise bike, cut him some slack. Though a little misguided, he may just be trying to do what's right.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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