We all need to get beyond good intentions. The Bible talks about that. In fact, it speaks pretty seriously about getting beyond just good intentions. The Book of Matthew chronicles a story that speaks about getting beyond good intentions.
“‘What do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second son and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of the father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you’” (Matt. 21:28-31).
What He was saying was the second one had good intentions but never followed through. The first one had a little bit of ambivalence, but he got beyond good intentions and he followed through. Jesus is talking about getting beyond good intentions.
God’s best will never happen except through great intentionality. God’s best does not happen accidentally; it does not happen by chance or coincidence.
There is a huge chasm between intentions and reality. It is like a chasm that has to be bridged and has to be crossed. Here are three planks or boards that can bridge that chasm. It is not necessarily going to make it happen automatically, but it will help us to walk over to it. There are three planks that will help us to build a bridge.
- First Plank: Put Guard Rails in Place and Respect Them!
If we are not careful, our lives will get diluted, and we will slump back into the same-old, same-old. But instead, the Lord is saying, “No, I want you to be able to have fruit in your life so that people can see it.” We have got to get back to action.
We have to ask, “What am I going to do? Am I going to fit myself to God’s Word and His Word to me? Am I going to set my life up to His Word and put guard rails in place?”
“Set up for yourself road marks, place for yourself guideposts, direct your mind to the highway …” (Jer. 31:21).
God says that we have to set up for ourselves road marks that are clear guideposts. They are guardrails, mental disciplines and internal guideposts. Nobody is going to do it for us. We have got to be able to discipline ourselves even though no one is around.
God gives many internal guardrails in His Word. They are like road marks or guideposts. Setting them up is not always going to be easy. We yearn for freedom. That freedom comes from the certain guard rails and disciplines that we put within our heart. When we begin to discipline ourselves, we will find that there is a great freedom in our life. Not necessarily a freedom to do something, but it is a freedom from having to do something.
What we have to do is put those guardrails in place. A river without banks is called a swamp. Force without limits is called an explosion. Fire without control is called an inferno. A road without road signs is called lost. A mind without parameters is called insanity. Life without discipline is a life wasted. Getting beyond good intentions will require us to set and respect guard rails because our hearts need to be directed.
- Second Plank: You Begin to Practice What You Know is God’s Best!
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who, because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:13-14).
Just because you and I became Christians, our feelings, emotions and senses do not automatically get saved. They are still rebellious and renegades and completely wild. You are a Christian; your spirit is saved. You love God, but your feelings and your senses are still wild. The Bible says you have to train. How do you do that? You do it by practicing.
The second plank that will get us beyond good intentions is practice. The first is establishing guardrails. Write down the things that we know we need to do to improve and optimize relationships. Keep them before you all the time and then just practice it.
Will it always be easy? No. Is it always fun? No, just practice it. Discipline yourself.
- Third Plank: Look for the Proof of Your Faith as Measurements
“So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7).
In other words, when the Lord comes, will there be not just faith but proof? Is there any proof? Is there any solid evidence?
There has got to be proof. Otherwise, all we have are good intentions, and you now what we do when we have good intentions? We start to change what we believe to match how we live. Then we feel better. If we are not careful, we start to change what we believe to how we live. Is there any proof? We must check ourselves. In doing so, this time, in a year, we will look back and we will see the progress that has been made and the bridge that has been built to help us to get beyond good intentions. We will see fruit is being born in our life and we are on our way to a life well lived.