A litany of good intentions
January 15, 2018 | by: Jason Shiels | 0 Comments
"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" (James 4:17)
As a younger man I was no stranger to procrastination. I would put off to tomorrow situations with the potential of conflict or that would 'put others out'. Behind the excessive desire to please people was a fear and insecurity that God would begin to deal with!
The Lord had given me a calling into leadership and I began to realise that procrastination, the thief of time, was something I was going to have to wrestle with and win, with God's help! Easier said than done. One day a comment by my friend Tony Johnson gave me a practical solution to the subtle fear and sense of insecurity that was inhibiting me from being decisive. Tony said, "The thing that you fear doing is probably the next thing that you should do." As a younger leader, this became a master-stroke plan to help me grow out of procrastinating and become more intentional. Indeed this has positively affected my whole life. It was as simple as this. Face into the situation that is causing unease and do/say what needs to be done/said. Simple but a stroke of Godly wisdom and genius, why hadn't I thought of that before??
Obedience is not easy. In fact let's be real it can be super-difficult sometimes. That said, the Lord never planned our pathway to maturity to be easy. He designed it to be tough enough to cause us to have to change and learn increasing dependence on the Holy Spirit! In the toughest tests obeying the Lord will cost us greatly, but never greater than the obedience of the One who became obedient unto death, even death on a cross! Through the perfect obedience of Jesus, the true Israelite and perfect law-keeper was a sinless and perfect sacrifice for our sin. Now we have salvation by grace and the opportunity, yes opportunity and privilege, to walk by grace in the power of the Spirit and to learn to live in obedience to Him and His Word.
So often though we get trapped in a state of good intentions without any REAL conviction to follow through on those platitudes. The dynamic is something like this. The good intentions make us feel good about ourselves. This placates the gnawing desire in our souls to obey God and to step out by faith into all that He has planned. However, the problem is that we may become dependent on the feeling of having good intentions, not in the follow through and transformation that brings us to obey God. As time goes by we either become paralysed by inertia or possibly condemned by our lack of progress.
Even Titus, a co-worker with the Apostle Paul, needed an exhortation to make good on an earlier pledge of assistance (in this instance giving) that he had earlier made to Paul - 2 Cor.8v5-6. Paul exhorted him to bring his good intentions to completion after a protracted delay. Paul was a mentor and Titus got a word in season from the Apostle that would challenge his paper-thin good intentions. Paul was not impressed by Titus' rhetoric., not should we be with our own.
I believe that we need to look deeper to the roots of what holds us back from completing faith with works of service. Is it fear? Is it a sense of insecurity? Identity issues? What kind of Father do we perceive the Lord to be? What do we really think about God, do we see Him as faithful? These are some of the tough questions we need to be asking ourselves to get to roots, and in the process come face to face with our tendency to allow good intentions to become a hiding place for a subtle but debilitating form of disobedience.
One final comment. Many in our day choose to live without a mentor such as a church leader or close friend whom they allow to speak into their lives? Titus had one. Paul reminded him to bring his good intentions to completion. I believe this is a 'now' word for many in the church today. Indeed, a reminder for us all. For me.
Let's not allow excuses to thwart our growth, our progress toward maturity and impact in the next season.
We can have excuses or we can have progress, but we can't have both.
Thanks for reading,