Good Intentions

Yesterday I intended to work out. I set my alarm Sunday night so that I’d wake up in time to get some exercise in before work.

When my alarm sounded Monday morning, I was too tired to get up, so I re-set the alarm and slept a little later.

No problem, I thought, I’ll work out after work. I loaded my gym bag into the car, fully intending to work out at my church’s life center after work. Instead I decided to go to the grocery store for a few provisions for the week.

When I got home, I called a friend who lives in my neighborhood to see if she wanted to join me for a walk. She was busy, and I soon got busy doing stuff around the house and skipped the walk.

Finally, I thought I’d do a little exercise while watching TV. No dice. I curled up with a magazine instead, then later worked on some articles that I’ve been writing.

So I had good intentions all day of squeezing in some exercise, and I certainly had ample opportunity to do so, but I chose other activities instead. Somehow I still feel entitled to pat myself on the back for “intending” to exercise, but the bottom line is, I didn’t follow through on my intentions. Good intentions won’t burn calories or build my muscles. My clothes won’t be any looser on me because I meant to work out, but didn’t.

I’m afraid that many times I give myself “credit” for thinking about doing good and intending to do good, but not following through on it. I’m reminded of James’ admonition about not just hearing (or seeing) what we should do, but being faithful in acting on it:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:19-27, emphasis mine)

Just because I *meant* to spend time in Bible study but got distracted by a phone call or some other interruption, that does not mean that I get the same benefits of actually studying my Bible. In fact, intentions that are not acted upon can actually mislead us into thinking that intentions are all we need in order to have an intimate walk with God. We need to not be fooled by Satan into believing that as long as the intentions are good, then the follow-through doesn’t matter.

As Proverbs 3:27 says, Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

Having a truly blessed life involves doing good, acting upon the intentions that God plants within our hearts.

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