Biblical Missteps: 10 Examples of Wrong Motives in the Bible

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Have you ever wondered about the hidden motives behind the actions of biblical characters? The Bible is full of intriguing stories, but what if I told you that some of the most renowned figures had wrong motives that led to dire consequences?

Join us on a captivating journey as we explore ten powerful examples of wrong motives in the Bible. Reflect on the lessons they teach us about the consequences of misguided intentions and the impact they had on the lives of those involved. You might be surprised by what you discover!

Get ready to dive deep into the stories of Cain, Jacob, Joseph’s brothers, and many others, as we uncover the hidden truths of biblical missteps.

Cain’s Offering (Genesis 4:3-5)

In the book of Genesis, we encounter the story of Cain and Abel, two brothers who bring offerings to God. While Abel’s offering is accepted, Cain’s offering is rejected. What went wrong with Cain’s offering?

It seems that Cain’s motive behind his offering was flawed, leading to its rejection. Instead of offering with a pure heart and sincere reverence for God, Cain’s motive may have been driven by selfishness, jealousy, or a desire for personal gain. This wrong motive tainted his offering, causing it to fall short in the eyes of God.

The consequence of Cain’s wrong motive is profound. Not only does God reject his offering, but it also triggers a destructive chain of events. Overwhelmed by jealousy towards his brother Abel, Cain allows his anger to consume him, leading to the tragic act of murder.

The story of Cain’s offering serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of examining our motives in our worship and service to God. It teaches us that our intentions matter and that God desires offerings that come from a genuine heart, free from wrong motives.

“The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, He did not look with favor. So Cain became very angry, and his countenance fell.” – Genesis 4:4-5

Lessons from Cain’s Offering:

  • Our motives matter in our worship and service to God.
  • Selfishness, jealousy, and personal gain can taint our offerings.
  • Wrong motives can have destructive consequences.
  • God desires offerings that come from a genuine heart.

The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)

In the biblical account of the Tower of Babel, we witness an example of humanity’s pride and disobedience. Genesis 11:1-9 tells the story of how the people of the earth united in their ambition to build a great tower to make a name for themselves and avoid being scattered.

Driven by pride, they sought to assert their greatness and establish their own glory, disregarding God’s plan for them. Their disobedience to God’s commandments led to dire consequences.

“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

God, seeing their arrogance, decided to intervene. He confounded their language, causing confusion and preventing them from communicating effectively with one another.

This act of divine intervention resulted in the scattering of the people, as they could no longer understand each other.

Tower of Babel

Through the story of the Tower of Babel, we are reminded of the consequences of pride and disobedience. It serves as a cautionary tale of the dangers of putting our own desires and ambitions above God’s will.

Let us reflect on this ancient account and consider its relevance to our own lives. How often do we prioritize our own glory and achievements over obedience to God? May we humbly seek His guidance and follow His plan for our lives.

Jacob’s Deception (Genesis 27)

In one of the most memorable examples of deceit in the Bible, Jacob manipulates his father Isaac to obtain Esau’s blessing. Fueled by ambition and driven by a desire to secure the birthright traditionally belonging to the eldest son, Jacob masterminds a plan to deceive his blind and elderly father. Jacob’s cunning and manipulation lead him to dress in Esau’s clothes and cover his arms with goat hair to mimic his brother’s appearance.

Under the pretense of being Esau, Jacob presents a meal to Isaac, who is initially skeptical. However, Jacob’s persistence and manipulation eventually convince Isaac to bless him. The blessings bestowed upon Jacob should have belonged to Esau, who is left devastated and vows to kill his brother. This act of deception not only leads to conflict and estrangement within the family but also sets in motion a series of events that shape the future of the Jewish people.

“Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, ‘But my brother Esau is a hairy man, while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.'”

Jacob’s deception highlights the dangers of unchecked ambition and the lengths individuals may go to achieve their desires. It serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the importance of honesty and integrity in our relationships. Ultimately, Jacob’s actions have far-reaching consequences, emphasizing the significance of moral choices and the impact they can have on both individuals and generations to come.

The Consequences of Jacob’s Deception

Jacob’s deception not only creates a rift between him and his brother Esau but also results in the loss of his family’s trust. His deceit leads to years of separation from his loved ones and serves as a catalyst for a lifetime of trials and tribulations.

Here is a table summarizing the consequences of Jacob’s deception:

ConsequencesDescription
Conflict with EsauEsau is enraged by Jacob’s deception and vows to kill him, forcing Jacob to flee from his family.
Estrangement from Isaac and RebekahJacob is separated from his parents, Isaac and Rebekah, for many years, causing deep pain and sorrow.
Loss of TrustJacob’s deceit erodes the trust within his family, straining relationships and causing fractures that last for generations.
Divine InterventionGod uses Jacob’s deception as an opportunity for growth and transformation, shaping him into the patriarch of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Lessons on HonestyJacob’s story serves as a reminder of the importance of honesty and the consequences that can arise from manipulation and deceit.

This table emphasizes the dire outcomes of Jacob’s deception, highlighting the destructive nature of his actions. The ramifications of his deceit reverberate throughout his life, shaping his journey and serving as a cautionary tale for future generations.

Joseph’s Brothers Sell Him (Genesis 37:18-28)

One of the most heartbreaking stories in the Book of Genesis is the sale of Joseph by his own brothers. Motivated by jealousy and hatred, Joseph’s brothers make a fateful decision that reverberates throughout their family’s history. Instead of following through with their initial plan to kill Joseph, they seize an opportunity to profit from his misfortune, selling him into slavery.

This act of betrayal, driven by deep-seated jealousy, changes the trajectory of Joseph’s life and sets in motion a series of events that will eventually lead him to become a powerful and influential figure in Egypt. But first, Joseph endures years of servitude and unjust treatment, highlighting the tragic consequences of his brothers’ actions.

joseph's brothers

“And they saw him from afar, and before he came near to them, they conspired against him to kill him… Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers listened to him.” (Genesis 37:18, 26-27)

The Devastating Impact of Jealousy and Hatred

Joseph’s brothers’ actions are born out of envy and resentment towards him. Joseph, favored by their father Jacob, is the recipient of a magnificent coat of many colors. This outward symbol of their father’s affection stokes the flames of jealousy in the hearts of his brothers, leading them to despise him even more.

In their quest to rid themselves of Joseph’s presence, his brothers initially contemplate murder. However, they ultimately decide to take advantage of a passing caravan of Ishmaelites, seeing an opportunity to make a profit from their brother’s suffering rather than shedding his blood.

The treacherous sale of Joseph into slavery reveals the depths of their cruelty and hatred towards him, as well as their willingness to deceive their father, Jacob, into believing that Joseph has met an untimely demise.

Consequences of Joseph’s Brothers’ Actions
Inception of a cycle of deceit and lies within the family
Joseph’s descent into slavery and separation from his family
Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt
Joseph’s eventual reunion with his family

The Redemption and Forgiveness

While the sale of Joseph into slavery is a testament to the destructive power of jealousy and hatred, his story ultimately demonstrates the transformative power of redemption and forgiveness. Through a series of trials and divine interventions, Joseph rises to become a trusted advisor to Pharaoh and is eventually able to save his family during a time of famine.

Joseph’s brothers, who once sold him into slavery, are humbled and brought to repentance when they encounter him years later. Joseph forgives and reconciles with his brothers, offering them a demonstration of grace and mercy that reunites their fractured family.

The tragic sale of Joseph by his brothers serves as a powerful reminder of the consequences of jealousy and hatred. It also illustrates the potential for redemption and forgiveness, emphasizing the importance of personal growth and healing within families.

Samson’s Vengeance on the Philistines (Judges 15:1-8)

Samson’s actions against the Philistines portray a narrative that goes beyond divine intervention. His personal vengeance fuels a cycle of violence, perpetuating a never-ending cycle of retribution.

“Then Samson said, ‘This time I shall be innocent regarding the Philistines when I harm them!'”

Samson’s quest for personal vengeance stems from an intense desire to avenge the wrongs inflicted upon him and his people by the Philistines. His impulsive actions often lead to devastating consequences, perpetuating a recurring pattern of violence between the Israelites and the Philistines.

Driven by an insatiable thirst for revenge, Samson embarks on a series of retaliatory acts against the Philistines. His exploits include burning their crops, destroying their fields, and slaying a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey, as depicted in Judges 15:1-8.

This incessant cycle of violence escalates tensions between the two nations, creating a brewing storm of hostility and bloodshed. Samson’s personal vengeance becomes entwined with the larger conflict between the Israelites and the Philistines, exacerbating the existing animosity.

In an attempt to break free from this cycle, it is vital to recognize the consequences of personal vengeance. While retribution may initially satisfy a desire for justice, it often perpetuates a cycle of violence that only leads to further suffering and destruction for both sides involved.

Samson’s Legacy: Personal Vengeance and the Cycles of Violence

The story of Samson’s vengeance serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the destructive power of personal vendettas and the harmful consequences they bring. It emphasizes the importance of seeking reconciliation and breaking free from the never-ending cycle of violence.

Samson’s Vengeance on the PhilistinesConsequences
Destroying Philistine crops and fieldsProvoking retaliation and further destruction
Slaying a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkeyIntensifying the conflict and fueling more bloodshed
Escalating tensions between the Israelites and the PhilistinesDeepening the divide and hindering the possibility of peace
Perpetuating a cycle of violenceResulting in constant suffering and loss for both sides

Samson’s story serves as a reminder of the destructive nature of personal vengeance. Instead of perpetuating cycles of violence, we should strive for understanding, forgiveness, and reconciliation to break free from the chains of animosity and foster a path towards lasting peace.

samson's vengeance

Saul’s Disobedience in the War Against Amalek (1 Samuel 15)

In the biblical account of Saul’s disobedience in the war against Amalek, we witness the destructive power of greed and the devastating consequences of rejecting God’s instructions.

God commands Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, leaving nothing alive. However, Saul spares King Agag and the best of the livestock, intending to offer them as sacrifices to God. On the surface, it may seem like an act of devotion, but Saul’s true motive reveals a different story.

Driven by disobedience and greed, Saul prioritizes his own desires over God’s commandment. His disobedience to God’s explicit instructions results in severe repercussions and ultimately leads to his rejection as king.

“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22

This story serves as a reminder that outward acts of worship and sacrifice do not compensate for a heart that is disobedient and driven by selfish desires. God values obedience above all else, and Saul’s disobedience marks the beginning of his downfall as the chosen king of Israel.

The Consequences of Greed and Disobedience

Saul’s disobedience not only leads to his personal downfall but also has lasting consequences for his nation. The rejection of Saul as king paves the way for the rise of David, a man after God’s own heart.

This chapter in Saul’s story highlights the importance of aligning our motives with God’s will and prioritizing obedience over personal gain. Greed and disobedience can distort our judgment and hinder our relationship with God, leading to dire consequences.

To further illustrate Saul’s disobedience in the war against Amalek, let’s compare the contrasting actions of Saul and King David when faced with similar situations.

Saul’s DisobedienceDavid’s Obedience
Saul spares King Agag and the best of the livestockDavid spares King Saul when he had the opportunity to kill him
Saul’s disobedience leads to his rejection as kingDavid’s obedience leads to his elevation as the future king
Saul's Disobedience

This powerful image visually represents the consequences of Saul’s disobedience and the importance of aligning our motives with God’s will. It serves as a poignant reminder of the dangers of greed and the unwillingness to submit to God’s commands.

Ananias and Sapphira Lie About Their Donation (Acts 5:1-11)

Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple in the early Christian community, found themselves entangled in a web of deceit and desire for recognition. The couple sold a piece of property but conspired to lie about the amount they received from the sale. Their motive was to make themselves appear more generous and praiseworthy than they truly were, seeking the recognition and admiration of their fellow believers.

This act of lying, driven by a desire for recognition, had severe consequences. When Ananias brought a portion of the money from the sale and presented it as the full amount, he was confronted by the apostle Peter, who exposed his deceit. An immediate and dreadful consequence followed: Ananias fell down dead.

“Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.'” (Acts 5:9)

Shortly after, Sapphira, unaware of her husband’s fate, arrived and reaffirmed the lie. She too faced the judgment of God, falling down dead at Peter’s rebuke. Their deceit was not only an offense against their fellow believers but ultimately against God Himself.

This unnerving account serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the dire consequences of indulging in lies and harboring a desire for recognition at the expense of honesty and integrity. Ananias and Sapphira’s desire to elevate themselves resulted in their tragic and untimely deaths, serving as a powerful reminder of the gravity of the choices we make and the motives that drive us.

Key Lessons:

  1. Lying and deceit have severe consequences, both in the eyes of our fellow humans and in the sight of God.
  2. The desire for recognition can lead us down a dangerous path, blinding us to the importance of integrity and truth.
  3. Honesty and integrity should always take precedence over the pursuit of personal acclaim.

ananias and sapphira

Simon the Sorcerer Desires to Buy the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18-23)

One example of wrong motives in the Bible is found in Acts 8:18-23, where Simon the Sorcerer attempts to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit. Simon is driven by greed and the desire for personal power, hoping to acquire the supernatural abilities of the apostles through monetary means.

This incident serves as a powerful reminder of the dangers of greed and the misplaced desire for power. Simon’s actions demonstrate how the allure of material gain can cloud one’s judgment and lead to destructive outcomes.

Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, so he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter rebuked him, saying, ‘May your silver perish with you because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”

In response to Simon’s misguided attempt, Peter issues a stern rebuke, highlighting the importance of genuine faith and the impossibility of purchasing the gifts of the Spirit. This rebuke underscores the need for sincerity and a right heart before God, emphasizing that true spiritual power cannot be bought or manipulated for personal gain.

Simon’s story serves as a cautionary tale, warning against the dangerous path of greed and the desire for power. It reminds us of the importance of aligning our motives with God’s will and seeking His guidance rather than pursuing selfish ambitions.

Simon the Sorcerer

Key takeaways

  • Greed and the desire for power can lead to misguided actions and destructive outcomes.
  • The pursuit of material gain can cloud one’s judgment and prevent a genuine connection with God.
  • The gifts of the Spirit cannot be purchased or manipulated for personal gain.
  • A sincere heart and alignment with God’s will are essential for genuine faith and spiritual growth.

Judas Iscariot’s Betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16; John 12:4-6)

In one of the most infamous acts of betrayal in history, Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’s disciples, made a fateful decision. Motivated by greed, Judas agreed to betray Jesus to the religious authorities for thirty pieces of silver.

“Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?’ And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.”

The consequences of Judas’s actions were devastating. Jesus was arrested, subjected to a mock trial, and ultimately sentenced to death. Realizing the magnitude of his betrayal, Judas was overcome with remorse.

The sequel follows a scene where Judas, filled with guilt and regret, attempted to return the bribe to the religious leaders but was rejected. Overwhelmed by guilt and plagued by his actions, Judas’s remorse drove him to a tragic outcome. The remorse and guilt were so unbearable that Judas took his own life, a tragic end to a life marked by betrayal and greed.

judas iscariot

How Do Wrong Motives in the Bible Contribute to Oppression in Biblical Examples?

The examples of oppression in the Bible serve to shed light on how wrong motives can lead to the mistreatment and exploitation of others. From the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt to the unjust treatment of the poor and needy, these stories reveal the damaging impact of selfish and oppressive behavior.

Diotrephes’ Self-Promotion in the Church (3 John 1:9-10)

In the early Christian community, a man named Diotrephes sought self-promotion and preeminence, driven by pride and the desire for control. Unfortunately, his actions had detrimental consequences, resulting in conflict and division within the church.

Diotrephes’ self-promotion was evident in his desire to be the center of attention and hold authority over others. He prioritized his own interests and disregarded the unity and well-being of the community. This display of pride and arrogance led to a power struggle and created factions within the church.

His desire for control manifested in his refusal to welcome and show hospitality to traveling missionaries who came to share the Gospel. Diotrephes not only rejected these messengers but also slandered them and excommunicated those who supported them. This divisive behavior further intensified the conflict and caused a rift among believers.

The example of Diotrephes serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the destructive nature of self-promotion, pride, and the desire for control. Instead of fostering unity and love, these motives lead to conflict, division, and the hindrance of God’s work in the church. It serves as a reminder for us to seek humility, promote harmony, and prioritize the well-being of the entire community over personal ambitions.

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Allan Wilson is the creator of the Scriptural Thinking Affirmations Package. Featuring over 200 minutes of mp3 audio Bible affirmations complete with background music. The package comes with the original affirmations PDF ebook and many bonus affirmation Bible studies as well. The affirmations are designed to help you call to remembrance all of the wonderful benefits of being in Christ and the marvelous privilege of being a child of God.