Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Good Intentions

With all the bad going on in the world, I was thinking about how much better it would be if we acted on most of our good intentions. Not only would the recipients of the good actions be better off, but I’m convinced that the doers of those that act on their good intentions would experience a greater sense of joy, hope and overall contentment.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Jesus did say that the southbound road is really wide and the northbound road is extremely narrow (Matthew 7:13), but I don’t remember Him ever mentioning what the pavement was made of. I think legalistic religion would tell us that the road to hell is paved with evil actions (sin). The opposite extreme would tell us that this dark road is paved with legalistic bricks that have impossible-to-keep rules imprinted on them. Like most things, I believe that the truth is somewhere in between the extremes.

When I read the Bible, especially the New Testament, it becomes clear that God views our wrong actions (sins of commission) just as harshly as He does our failure to act on our good intentions (sins of omission). For example, in the Matthew’s gospel (25:31-46), Jesus paints a scary picture of what judgment day will be like:

“…for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they themselves also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

The frightening thing about the above passage is that these people who Jesus sent down the dark road, considered themselves to be Christians. If you read between the lines it becomes obvious that these people had developed a habit of not following the promptings of the Holy Spirit or their God-given conscience–they simply quit acting on their good intentions.

james 417

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of (good) works…” (Ephesians 2:8-9),

The Bible is clear that we are not saved by good deeds; we’re saved by grace through a commitment to follow Christ. But that commitment (if genuine) should bear fruit in the form of good works (James 2:18). It’s so easy for Christians to come to a place where we believe that we’re good because we’re not behaving badly. By definition this is self-righteousness. But we don’t overcome evil (in ourselves and in the world) just by not trying to do wrong; we overcome evil by doing good:

“Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21 NLT)

When going through a serious trial, it’s tempting to think that we should somehow be exempt from having to do good works; we might think that we should only be the recipients of the good works of others during these difficult times. Don’t believe this, it will only lead to despair. Our good works might seem insignificant (compared to others) when life’s challenges limit our physical, emotional and/or financial abilities, but, as Christians, we’ll never become exempt from doing good works. This poverty-stricken widow set the perfect example for those going through a trial:

“And He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)

Mary and I are so thankful for the family, friends and even people we didn’t know personally, that have helped us in so many ways throughout this almost 18 year battle with ALS (you know who you are). We don’t even want to think about how much worse this trial would have been had you not acted on your good intentions.

There are so many people in need, but maybe you feel, like I’ve felt at times, that you only have a penny’s worth of help, prayers, words of encouragement or even money to give. Think about the poor widow and just do what you can. I know that God will bless the person you help, and He’ll bless you for acting on your good intentions.



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117 thoughts on “Good Intentions

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  1. Reblogged this on Christine's Collection and commented:
    Some very sobering thoughts for a Sunday morning. I found Bill’s post really inspiring and I hope you will, too.

  2. Pingback: “Good Intentions” 3/05/2015 by Bill Sweeney, stricken with ALS 18 years ago | God's group

  3. Reblogged this on Humble Heart Scribbles and commented:
    This is a brilliant post- an encouragement to give what we can to Jesus and not hold back

  4. A great reminder- to give what little we have to Jesus, knowing He just wants our best

  5. Pingback: “Good Intentions” 10/20/2014 by Bill Sweeney | God's group

  6. I’ve been reading some of your posts and can’t help but loving the way you word it and the way you use Bible verses – and I just love the picture in this post. Thank you for blogging friend.

  7. You continue to inspire me with your posts, words and scriptural references Bill! Enjoy your day! 🙂

  8. Thanks Bill. Excellent article. Very good teaching. Recipients need no qualifications for being recipients other than having needs to be supplied. And we are all potential recipients with needs. Thus, ministry: Mutual ministerial sharing, from the Greek “koinonia,” in which everyone supplies needs to everyone, both having and acting on good intentions. Community. Love. Real fellowship. Blessings to you.

  9. Always a joy and an encouragement to read your posts.

  10. Great post with excellent points we do well to remember and implement. Thanks for sharing such wisdom.

  11. I know that there are times when I should have done more. How can one person make things right for so many people. It seems that to do the right thing is missed in the minds of so many people. All they do is think of themselves. I taught my children that the best thing you can do each day is to do something nice for someone. Anyone. A kind gesture is never forgotten and many times is makes you feel so good inside. I have tired to live my life like a canvas. Putting as much color in it as I can. That goes for my good deeds. I try to do as many good things to make someones else have a better day today than yesterday. You all have a better than average day.

    • Thank you, Linda. It’s tempting to think that doing little things don’t matter in the big scheme of things, but that’s not true. The following quote by Helen Keller is one we should all remember:
      “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

  12. I’ve looking forward to reading this since you told me about it. Now, I have. And it didn’t disappoint. Thanks for the kind reminders and all the practical ways we can practice them in our lives. Many blessings on you!

  13. Very good post! This rebuked me real hard, bcs sometimes we as Christians can get easily content with just ‘not doing bad things’. Should learn to do more of the opposite too! Thanks for the reminder, keep blessing thru your writing! 🙂

    • Thank you, Wellney. It is so easy to focus on not doing bad, but that approach becomes counter-productive. It’s a more fruitful and enjoyable life to instead focus on doing good, and the greatest good is sharing the good news.

  14. Great post Bill, and great reminder for all of us. Prayers and blessings to you and your family.

  15. Bill – Thank you for always leaving me with food for thought.

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