My office is the scene of constant battle. On the front line of my desk, two forces are engaged—the Pile Army led by General Intentions versus the Orderly Army led by General Tidy. The Pile Army constantly bombs the white-painted plain where I work with papers, books, writing instruments, mail, business cards, pictures and occasionally food and drink. Tidy is outgunned, outmaneuvered and so seldom wins victories that his army is often prone to quit fighting. Bills, deadlines and voting ballots are sporadically missed—all casualties beneath the deadly aim of Intention’s battle captain—Procrastination. On occasion, when I take trips, my wife visits the frontlines and brilliantly supports the Orderly forces with such pragmatic movements that I can actually see my desktop when I return.
Romans 7:15,18--For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate . . . For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.
Let’s condense Paul’s confession to the Romans into one word--intentions. While messy desks are somewhat humorous, a life of missed opportunities and incorrect actions is sorrowful. Intentions are like a journey that goes nowhere. We feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to share Jesus with a hurting friend but we’re afraid of rejection so nothing is said. We know that we should stop eating food that makes us fat but we indulge anyway with an eye for tomorrow. Family devotions disappear before urgent deadlines. Thank-you notes were never sent. We want to join a home group but myriad activities block the way. “Should have” turns to guilt then morphs to rationalization.
Forget that intentions may be splendid, so are candles. But until the wick is lit it is unfulfilled light. If Jesus lived by intentions, could the wood that made the cross instead have built a throne? (Mark 14:36b) Fortunately, Jesus knew His Father rewarded obedience, not the thought of obeying. And He also knows how weak our flesh is. His grace handles the sins of what we knew but failed to do as well as what we knew not to do but did anyway. So, the next time you sense the Spirit prompting you to act, don’t wait—do it! Seize the moment through the power of Christ, who yielded to the cross thereby conquering sin, death and good intentions!
Beware of praying about an intention—act. To pray about what we know we should do is to piously push the whole thing overboard and think no more about it.—Oswald Chambers inThe Moral Foundations of Life
©2005 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)