We were having some folks over for supper this past Tuesday night so there was a list of things we wanted to get done prior to their arrival. Anita's focus was on cooking and straightening up the house a bit. My intent was to get home a bit early and do some long overdue grass cutting. Well, I wasn't able to leave work quite as early as I wanted but still figured I had ample time to get some grass cut. I get home, change into some work clothes, go out to the mower to get started and notice it's almost out of gas. And, of course, we didn't have any at the house so off I went with the gas can to get some. I get back and fill up the mower, ready to get going! Click ... click .... click. Nothing. Dead battery. No worries, I'll just jump it off. Where are the jumper cables that I know were here this morning? They've apparently disappeared into thin air. Time is rapidly slipping away and marching on toward the arrival of our guests snd I still needed to grill the chicken and take a shower.
Looks like the grass is going to have to wait until another day. But I really did have good intentions and wanted to get it cut ... it just didn't work out this time! But guess what still needs to be done? The grass didn't shrink or cut itself just because I had good intentions. The need to mow the grass is still there ... in fact, with each passing day the need becomes greater and more urgent.
While this is a story about my yard it could just as easily be a story about my heart and life. I have all sort of good intentions every day ... but things just don't always work out the way I thought they would. Something else comes up, something is broken, other stuff presses hard on me, etc. and I simply can't do what I intended to do. But I really did have good intentions ... surely that should be all that matters ... right? But here's the reality - the project still needs to be completed, the phone call needs to be made, the bill still needs to be paid, dishes still need to be washed, etc. "Anita, sorry those checks bounced. I really wanted to drop off that deposit at the bank but just got so busy I wasn't able. But my intentions really were good."
How often do our "good intentions" thwart real action and obedience in the church? How often do we say, "I really meant to do that, but you know how it is." And in the meantime ... that class still needs a teacher, that sick or lonely person still needs an encouraging visit or phone call, that struggling parent still needs help with his/her child, our hearts still need the encouragement we find in corporate worship and personal devotion, those church bills still need to be paid, that struggling married couple still needs the hospitality and friendship of more mature believers, that teenage student still needs a mentor, those work projects still need to be done, etc. We all have good intentions and "really mean" to call that person, attend worship/small group, go to the next work day, daily read the Bible and pray, serve in some capacity, etc. But the hard truth is our good intentions don't get the work done.
How about next time we "really, really mean it" and try even harder? That's not going to work either ... we know that from experience. So what are we to do? I suggest the answer rests in repentance and believing the Gospel. For one, the Gospel assures us there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ. There truly are times when we can't get done the things we want to get done. For whatever reason, even when it's due to our own sinful neglect, we are convinced that our right standing before God isn't a result of our own righteousness but rather is due to the finished work of Jesus Christ. Thus, we are free to own up to our sin, repent of it, and then move forward with the assurance of forgiveness and grace. Then also, when we are immersed in the Gospel, we are more compelled to live out our lives in conformity with that Gospel.
While we do have a "doing" problem and often use good intentions as a cloaking device to hide our disobedience, our root problem is a "believing" problem. Today, seriously reflect again on the amazing love of God expressed to you in Christ and see what the Spirit will do with that in your life.