“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4.3 NIV).
Many times we don’t realize that our motives are rooted in selfishness until God exposes them. Just like a child who operates in a me-centered mentality, when we first come to God, we will automatically exist in our selfish nature. It is a journey, walking hand-in-hand with the Holy Spirit, that grows us into mature Christians. God will give us promises, and when we first receive them, we will embrace them for selfish reasons that may appear “spiritual” because they are candy-coated with good intentions. God must peel away our wrong motives, uncovering our selfishness, so we can finally repent and embrace His promises with motives aligned with God’s heart. Our default nature will always be self-centered, and we must choose each day to operate outside that selfishness and in the will of God. God will wait, holding our promises back, until we offer all of our motives to Him. Only when we submit our intentions to God and lay our expectations at His feet, will we be able to “spend what we get” on God’s pleasure and not our own. And when we please God, we will find that we have achieved our own ultimate pleasure in life—the pleasure of our Heavenly Father.
“A man’s most glorious actions will at last be found to be but glorious sins, if he hath made himself, and not the glory of God, the end of those actions.” – Thomas Brooks