Of late, “intention” is a word that has been circulating within my mind. So, when I recently heard a Christian psychologist say something like, “Intentions don’t produce results,” my mind went to work.
“Intention” expresses our desired end, but does not necessarily express the actual end. So for us finite creatures, intention is good but not enough. It may start something, but mere intention won’t keep or complete it.
For example, how many times have we been corrected/confronted by our spouse or friend only to respond, “Well, I did/didn’t intend to….”? The result was different from our intention. But our intention did not change the outcome, much less excuse our fault.
So, good intention is necessary but not enough. It needs more. Intention must be accompanied with continual focus and consistent action. It needs to be tethered to decision-making, discipline, and diligence. Knowing and maintaining our intentions can help direct our decision-making, fuel our discipline, and strengthen our diligence, but, good intentions alone will not bring the desired results.
So what good intentions are still lying dormant in our past? Have we intended to invite someone over for dinner? Have we intended to apologize and seek forgiveness? Have we intended to learn the Bible and increase in prayer? Have we intended to call a friend or family member? Have we intended to evangelize? Have we done it?
Lest I leave us discouraged, first, we should rejoice that our salvation is not dependent upon our intentions, but upon faith alone in Christ alone. The gospel declares what God has done in Christ, not what we must accomplish! Second, we should fix our eyes on the faithful God who always fulfils what He intends.
God intended to create humanity in His image; He intended to call a people for Himself; He intended to establish His rule through His anointed King; He intended to provide salvation through sacrifice; He intended to purchase redemption through ransom; He intended to provide reconciliation through vicarious death. And He did! He fulfilled all of these intentions through, by, and in Jesus Christ the Lord.
God intends to sanctify His people; He intends to conform His children into the image of the Son; He intends to judge the living and the dead; He intends to condemn the wicked and establish universal righteousness; He intends to create the new heavens and earth; He intends to complete what He started; He intends to eternally dwell with His redeemed people. And He will! He will fulfil all of these intentions through, by, and in Jesus Christ our Lord!
May God grant us grace to fulfil our godly intentions that we may reflect His image well.
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.