With a sizable 78-55 lead, Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals was going San Antonio’s way until their best player, Kawhi Leonard, left the game with an injured ankle in the third quarter. 

During a controversial foul by Warriors player, Zaza Pachulia, Kawhi landed on his foot after Zaza stepped into him while coming down from his shot. The Spurs played the rest of the game without their star, and the Warriors came back to win.  

The Spurs are upset they lost the game, and head coach Gregg Popovich is especially angry about the play that precludes Kawhi from playing in Game 2.

Popovich and the media are questioning Zaza’s intentions and motives behind the foul, and accusing him of being a dirty player. When people look at the replay, they see Zaza preventing Kawhi from having enough space to land from his jumpshot.

Popovich commented, “Nobody wants to do anything that would put anybody else in danger for a game or a career. This guy’s history is different.”

The debate over Zaza playing dirty, and intentionally wanting to injure Kawhi, will be a topic of conversation throughout the series. Although the series has been altered, it’s hard to know for sure what the motives of athletes really are. Figuring out what is exactly in their hearts and minds on any specific play is nearly impossible. 

The same is true for us in our own lives. Time and time again, people do things under false pretenses…disguised as a worthy effort. Unfortunately, they may act like they care about us, but something self-motivating is driving them. 

Although it’s difficult to figure out what’s going on in someone else’s heart or mind, we can take an inventory of our own intentions. As followers of Jesus, we want to live with a pure heart that includes pure motives.

We must consider what’s really driving us to make the decisions we make, and the reasons behind our behavior. We need to address and let go of the “dirty plays” we are pursuing for the wrong reasons. 

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT),“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” 

1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NLT) tells us, “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.”

Ultimately, God is the one who knows our hearts and what’s behind the actions we take. Let’s trust Him to reveal the changes we need to make…and give us strength to be pure in our intent to love Him and love people. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my impure thoughts and intentions that have hurt people. Please show me the actions in my life that are driven by the wrong motives, so that I can be pure in the way I love and serve You and others. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.