The thought most associated with this statement is the intention of doing something good yet failing to follow through with action. This is a great truth to be drawn from this statement. In fact the Bible tells us in James 4:17, “So it is a sin for the person who knows to do good and doesn’t do it” (HCSB*). Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are created in Christ Jesus for good works”. We are called to do good works! Many times we see needs around us, but we ignore the obvious. Instead we choose to use our resources, our time, and our attentions for what brings us pleasure, is convenient, and doesn’t get in the way of our busy schedules.
What about the times we do follow through? A person who believes in pro-choice and supports abortion through helping to fund abortion clinics or educating women on the right to choose is acting with good intention on her beliefs. This looks different when we put the idea of acting on good intentions in the context of the Christian life, however. I remember as a young Christian my husband and I hosted a small group Bible study in our home. We wanted to reach out to other people our age that just didn’t really have a place or niche in our small country church. We had good intentions, but I look back now and see that our follow through was lacking. In fact, it could have been misleading. Once a week with our group we would read a Bible passage and go around the room sharing what the passage meant to each of us. Does this set up sound familiar? Sure, we had good intentions, but translating this through what I know now: We were NOT studying the Bible! Each of us were interpreting Scripture through what we each thought was right. We did not examine Scripture with Scripture, rather we explained Scripture in a way that would more conveniently fit our lifestyles. This was very dangerous territory. Scripture should be taken as the ultimate authority and only interpreted with Scripture. What about in your church? Maybe your church is noted for its generosity. Your congregation has a reputation of charity, but the giving is focused inwardly. Maybe your church gives to those in need in the community but only sporadically with no long-term focus on furthering God’s kingdom. How can we know we are doing the good works that further God’s kingdom that we were created in Christ to do?
Let’s act upon our good intentions with Biblical clarity.
- We must be mission minded. All four gospels record the mission-mindedness of Christ. He reached out to people everywhere around Him. He gave this same mission to those who chose to follow Him. (Matthew 28-18-20)
- We must live in light of eternity. Matthew 6:19 tells us to store up treasures for ourselves in heaven. How do we do that? We must think in terms of eternity. When you are out at your job, at school, or even at church, ask yourself if what you are saying and doing will help lead someone to Christ.
- We must study. In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul urges Timothy to study in order to become confident in the Scripture and be able to teach it correctly. We should always interpret Scripture in light of Scripture and never based on our own experience, knowledge, or emotion. Make Bible study a daily habit!
- We must act. Once you know the good you are to do, then do it. If the opportunity presents itself for you to share the gospel with a co-worker, do it! (This is where study has practical application; study leads to confidence!) If you see a young couple struggling to make it and you know of a job opening, share that information! If you know you’re available to help out with Vacation Bible School, then do it! Don’t let “awkwardness”, laziness, or anything else be a hindrance to serving God and furthering His kingdom by showing His love to others.
Finally, I leave you with this. Don’t commit the epic failure of “intending” to be saved at some point later in your life. If you are not a Christian, I implore you to do something about that now! Apart from Christ, there is no salvation. Romans 3:23 tells us that each and every one of us has sinned and fallen short of the magnificent glory and holiness of God, but there is hope in Christ! The Bible says in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Praise God that He made a way for us to reconnect with Him!
Author: Elizabeth Williamson
*All Scripture quoted is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.