Good intentions are not enough

Good intentions are not enough

Most of us have many good intentions. We really do intend to clean the house, or get around to fixing that problem, or to start that exercise programme. We mean to do it, but it never seems to get done.

This is not a new problem. People have always been like this.

We see this in 2 Kings 12, in events that happened around 2800 years ago. King Jehoash had decided to repair the temple which had fallen into disrepair. There was already enough money coming in to do it, so he entrusted this money to the priests. They were to arrange the repairs. Yet, after twenty years, nothing had actually happened. Why not? The two logical possibilities were corruption (the priests were stealing the money) or laziness (the priests never got around to it). The passage implies it is the second option, because the priests are still part of the new plan and are not condemned for stealing.

The new plan to fix the temple involved accountability and planning. All money collected went to a prominent, locked public chest. When full, the money was counted by two people and then passed to tradespeople to do the repairs. The result was that the repairs happened rather than remaining as good intentions.

Most of us have good intentions when it comes to serving God. We would love to know the Bible better. We think that we might serve in the church in some way. Perhaps we will attend a Bible study group that we have never got around to joining. Good intentions are not enough. We need to make a plan, else we will look back in five years and see only good intentions, not actions.

Paul encourages something similar in Romans 12:

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.    (Rom. 12:6-8 ESV)

Without getting into the detail of the gifts here, do you see the encouragement? All of us have gifts from God. We need to use them. Paul is telling his readers that it is not enough to have a gift, it is intended to be used. We need to think and practically get out there and do it.

How can we move from good intentions to the practical service of God? Here are two observations from 2 Kings 12 that might help:

  1. Be accountable. Talk to your spouse or to a parent or a friend about what you are planning to do. Ask them to pray with you and for you, and to ask you how you’re going. That extra encouragement might make a big difference.
  2. Make a plan. It doesn’t need to be complicated or cover the next twenty years. Choose one aspect of godliness you want to work on. Then sit down and plan how you might improve in this area. Plan small, easily achievable steps. For example, if you want to improve your Bible knowledge, commit to reading from the Bible for 10 minutes a day a few times a week. Once you are into that pattern, you can plan to do more or go deeper later on.

Don’t only have good intentions. Make a plan to actually serve God with all we have.