Good Intentions

With all the bad going on in the world, I was thinking about how much better it would be if we acted on most of our good intentions. Not only would the recipients of the good actions be better off, but I’m convinced that the doers of those that act on their good intentions would experience a greater sense of joy, hope and overall contentment.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Jesus did say that the southbound road is really wide and the northbound road is extremely narrow (Matthew 7:13), but I don’t remember Him ever mentioning what the pavement was made of. I think legalistic religion would tell us that the road to hell is paved with evil actions (sin). The opposite extreme would tell us that this dark road is paved with legalistic bricks that have impossible-to-keep rules imprinted on them. Like most things, I believe that the truth is somewhere in between the extremes.

When I read the Bible, especially the New Testament, it becomes clear that God views our wrong actions (sins of commission) just as harshly as He does our failure to act on our good intentions (sins of omission). For example, in the Matthew’s gospel (25:31-46), Jesus paints a scary picture of what judgment day will be like:

“…for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they themselves also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

The frightening thing about the above passage is that these people who Jesus sent down the dark road, considered themselves to be Christians. If you read between the lines it becomes obvious that these people had developed a habit of not following the promptings of the Holy Spirit or their God-given conscience–they simply quit acting on their good intentions.

james 417

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of (good) works…” (Ephesians 2:8-9),

The Bible is clear that we are not saved by good deeds; we’re saved by grace through a commitment to follow Christ. But that commitment (if genuine) should bear fruit in the form of good works (James 2:18). It’s so easy for Christians to come to a place where we believe that we’re good because we’re not behaving badly. By definition this is self-righteousness. But we don’t overcome evil (in ourselves and in the world) just by not trying to do wrong; we overcome evil by doing good:

“Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21 NLT)

When going through a serious trial, it’s tempting to think that we should somehow be exempt from having to do good works; we might think that we should only be the recipients of the good works of others during these difficult times. Don’t believe this, it will only lead to despair. Our good works might seem insignificant (compared to others) when life’s challenges limit our physical, emotional and/or financial abilities, but, as Christians, we’ll never become exempt from doing good works. This poverty-stricken widow set the perfect example for those going through a trial:

“And He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)

Mary and I are so thankful for the family, friends and even people we didn’t know personally, that have helped us in so many ways throughout this almost 18 year battle with ALS (you know who you are). We don’t even want to think about how much worse this trial would have been had you not acted on your good intentions.

There are so many people in need, but maybe you feel, like I’ve felt at times, that you only have a penny’s worth of help, prayers, words of encouragement or even money to give. Think about the poor widow and just do what you can. I know that God will bless the person you help, and He’ll bless you for acting on your good intentions.

 

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on August 6, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 117 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Christine's Collection and commented:
    Some very sobering thoughts for a Sunday morning. I found Bill’s post really inspiring and I hope you will, too.

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  2. Reblogged this on Humble Heart Scribbles and commented:
    This is a brilliant post- an encouragement to give what we can to Jesus and not hold back

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  3. A great reminder- to give what little we have to Jesus, knowing He just wants our best

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  4. I’ve been reading some of your posts and can’t help but loving the way you word it and the way you use Bible verses – and I just love the picture in this post. Thank you for blogging friend.

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  5. You continue to inspire me with your posts, words and scriptural references Bill! Enjoy your day! 🙂

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  6. Thanks Bill. Excellent article. Very good teaching. Recipients need no qualifications for being recipients other than having needs to be supplied. And we are all potential recipients with needs. Thus, ministry: Mutual ministerial sharing, from the Greek “koinonia,” in which everyone supplies needs to everyone, both having and acting on good intentions. Community. Love. Real fellowship. Blessings to you.

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  7. Always a joy and an encouragement to read your posts.

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  8. Great post with excellent points we do well to remember and implement. Thanks for sharing such wisdom.

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  9. I know that there are times when I should have done more. How can one person make things right for so many people. It seems that to do the right thing is missed in the minds of so many people. All they do is think of themselves. I taught my children that the best thing you can do each day is to do something nice for someone. Anyone. A kind gesture is never forgotten and many times is makes you feel so good inside. I have tired to live my life like a canvas. Putting as much color in it as I can. That goes for my good deeds. I try to do as many good things to make someones else have a better day today than yesterday. You all have a better than average day.

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    • Thank you, Linda. It’s tempting to think that doing little things don’t matter in the big scheme of things, but that’s not true. The following quote by Helen Keller is one we should all remember:
      “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

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  10. I’ve looking forward to reading this since you told me about it. Now, I have. And it didn’t disappoint. Thanks for the kind reminders and all the practical ways we can practice them in our lives. Many blessings on you!

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  11. Very good post! This rebuked me real hard, bcs sometimes we as Christians can get easily content with just ‘not doing bad things’. Should learn to do more of the opposite too! Thanks for the reminder, keep blessing thru your writing! 🙂

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    • Thank you, Wellney. It is so easy to focus on not doing bad, but that approach becomes counter-productive. It’s a more fruitful and enjoyable life to instead focus on doing good, and the greatest good is sharing the good news.

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  12. Great post Bill, and great reminder for all of us. Prayers and blessings to you and your family.

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  13. Bill – Thank you for always leaving me with food for thought.

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  14. Thank you for this profound message, Bill. I am at times tortured by my limitations. I needed this reminder that the tasks to which God calls us are not measured by the world’s standards. Thank you.

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    • Thank you, Anna. I suppose that to varying degrees we all have limitations and it’s so tempting to think that if we cannot do great things we won’t bother doing little things. But many times the things that we consider little God makes great.

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  15. Thank you so much Bill, for giving us all hope that no matter what, God is in control of our lives. Prayin’ for U every day my friend. Blessings in Christ, bruce

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  16. and just at the right time, I read your blog entry today – discouraged by so much evil and despair rampant in our world today – and you’ve given me a place to begin. Thanks so much for your reminder to do what we can, to do what we are led to do. What a blessing!

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  17. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10.

    Interesting how those words immediately follow the promise regarding grace. We are created to do good works.

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  18. Hi, Bill.

    I liked what one commenter said above–it’s not about us, it’s about God. I always find that comforting because God can take even the things I wish I hadn’t done (with less than the best intentions) and make something of them. And vice versa–God may take things I think are really great (because done with the best intentions) and quietly discard them. I wouldn’t know how to sort it all out. It’s also a comfort that only God knows how to do that–because only God sees and knows me completely.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post!
    Elouise

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    • Thank you, Elouise. You’re right, we don’t do good works for our sake, we do them for God’s sake. It’s only with that proper motive that God will empower us to do things that we wouldn’t have the power to do otherwise.
      “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

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  19. Thank you, Bill, for the encouraging reminder that if a poor widow can give, so can we. It’s often the little, thoughtful gifts, given in love, that bless the recipient the most. I love your blog.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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  20. Bill, you have such an incredible touch with words. Though I try to act on good intentions, sometimes my pride gets in the way. I worry about being misunderstood, criticized, etc and I balk. Thank you for this post to remind me it’s not about me.
    Thank you.

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    • Thank you, Denise. I have that pride thing too, thanks for reminding me I’m not alone 🙂 But it sounds as if you, also like me, have a lack of confidence. Either way, acting on good intentions weakens pride and strengthens confidence so it really does get easier with practice.

      Like

  21. Reblogged this on verawrites and commented:
    In pondering what thoughts to put to words here, I came across two powerful posts. This one by Bill and another by Ariffa at http://hopehonorandhappiness.com/2014/08/07/the-small-things/ Perhaps God will speak to you as He did to me through these timely messages.

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  22. What a good word. Thank you. And it is a very much word we all need to hear. And I am also amazed that your battle with ALS has been going on for 18 years. God’s hand is surely on you and your family! Glory!

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  23. As always, your words bring understanding and conviction. Thank you for this post and the reminder that being good is not about sitting still and not doing bad things. Romans 12:21 is a very humbling verse for me. It forces me to reconsider all my unrealized “good intentions”.

    Thank you. God bless you

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  24. Beautiful and incredibly thought provoking to consider how we live each day no matter what our state is. Beautiful! Thank you for writing!!!!! God Bless you!!!!

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  25. How good is this blog Bill? Thank you so much for the time you have taken to once again share a gem! You are walking the talk when you take the time and effort in your own challenge to helps us all through ours. As we say down-under, “your fair dinkum” Bill.

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    • Thank you, Phil. I am finally getting pretty good with this new computer. I hope you won’t need to get an eye-control computer for quite some time, but it’s great technology and I’m so thankful to have it.
      You’re fair dinkum too, Phil (I had to look it up :-))

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  26. I love this – ” It’s so easy for Christians to come to a place where we believe that we’re good because we’re not behaving badly.” It does sometimes require creativity to find ways to make a difference. What you’ve written motivates me to keep trying.

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  27. Thank you for this amazing message, Bill! I am so inspired by your posts that I keep re-blogging them, hoping that many others will be as inspired as I am by the truths that God has put on your heart to share with us. You are a shining example of the reality of God’s love, light, wisdom, and truth in this dark world. Thank you for persevering despite your suffering and trials. Your example encourages all who are facing severe challenges on their paths to not quit because they see that you never quit. Your life is a BEAUTIFUL BLESSING. You and your precious wife & family are in my prayers daily. God bless you, my friend. ~Suzanne

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    • Thank you very much, Suzanne. If we rely on it, God’s grace really is sufficient to sustain us in our trials. The encouragement of friends like you also helps – thank you for the re-blog.

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  28. As always, such a great post. At the end you mention how we may feel we have little to offer or that the need (whatever that be) is much too large for us to have an impact, but I’m reminded of a portion of a song that says, “You don’t have to change the world, just trust in Me.”

    Today I was speaking with a woman who’s husband is in jail. Both she and her husband are believers, and she is struggling to raise their two young children without him. She mentioned how God has given her the oppotunity to speak to a woman she often encounters during visiting hours. I asked her, “If you were to learn, later, that this was all for her, would it be worth it?”

    She smiled and said, “Absolutely.”

    I’m pretty sure we all know that “one”. The one neighbor who’s lonely or the one single mother who’s stressed, the one child who’s hungry. No, we won’t be able to eradicate world hunger, but we can bring hope and light to one. And for the one, that’s everything.

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    • That is really good, Jennifer. You are so right, alone we cannot change the world, but we can help a neighbor. As the Bible says, we must become faithful with the small things before God trusts us with great things.

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  29. Beautifully written, expressing the Christ seeking soul that you are. Actually one of my favorite quotes is “The truth told with bad intent is worse than all the lies.”–William Blake.

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  30. Word to live by indeed. We need to remember that each and every time we make a choice to do something .. or nothing.. Diane

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  31. What a great reminder! I especially like how you said:

    “But we don’t overcome evil (in ourselves and in the world) just by not trying to do wrong; we overcome evil by doing good:”

    What a fantastic observation! Thank you! (Can I quote you?)

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  32. Thank you Bill for this timely reminder; I really needed to hear it. Blessings to you and yours . . . .

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  33. Bill,
    Today I find myself in the middle of an ongoing storm. Your words this morning were very encouraging to me. I’m spending a day of vacation dealing with problems and trying to stay above the fray.

    “as Christians, we’ll never become exempt from doing good works”. Without good words we are dead. Thank you for this encouraging post! It helped me to see that I am on the correct path…bumpy as it is.
    Patrick

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  34. “We don’t overcome evil (in ourselves and in the world) just by not trying to do wrong; we overcome evil by doing good.” Those words (as well as many others of yours, Bill!) are worthy of a large plaque, displayed prominently in our homes! You’ve got me thinking. Am I accomplishing the good God has planned for me, in order to fight evil within and without?

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    • Thank you, Nancy. I usually blog about issues I feel convicted about – almost like thinking out loud. I suppose when you’re paralyzed and can’t speak, the focus shifts to sins of omission 🙂

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  35. Bill,
    This a gem! I so appreciate you and the effort you put forth to share with us. I have a couple of calls I have been putting off. So off to make the calls.
    Thank you

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    • Thank you, Nin. It’s so funny that you mentioned making phone calls as acting on your good intentions. My wife did the same thing after reading my post last night. Simple actions like an encouraging phone call really make a big difference.

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  36. Lo and behold. It’s been awhile since you posted a blog. I was wondering yesterday and today, how you were feeling? I thought of sending an email to see what you were up to. Then I found this blog post. Made me smile.

    God is so good to lay people on our hearts…people we’ve never met…to pray for one another.
    And in your case, to encourage me through your words.

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  37. Bill, you’ve managed to communicate a big and beautiful truth through your story, your experience. You’re right–Jesus never said what the road would be paved with. I appreciate your humility in presenting a tough truth with grace and conviction because of what you’re living through now. Thank you for sharing with such passion and promise.

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  38. Jennifer Stepanski

    Bill,
    Bill, Thank You so Much…. I do need these words! Appreciate your time and thought, and for sharing the Good News. Please know you help in so many ways. Thanks for the reminders of Hope, Love, and so much more! You and your family are so very special. God Bless. The Lord be glorified~

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  39. Great post, great truth. I think most of us, as Christians, sin more by omission than we do by commission. I also think we don’t recognize it as sin because sins of omission are invisible and are not embarrassing. We need to hone our conscience to convict us of sins of omission. Thanks for reminding us.

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  40. Had to share! Re-blogged. Thank you, Bill. God is using you in a mighty way.

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  41. Reblogged this on Ok, so far and commented:
    Fellow ALS blogger Bill has a gift for getting right to the heart of the matter. Thanks, Bill. I needed this word today. I am happy to re-blog here.

    Like

  42. Hi Bill, so good to hear from you again. You give, my friend . . . you give.
    Also wanted to let you know that my blog is now at: niceonenana.com
    Hope you’ll visit soon. Diane

    Like

  43. Thanks Bill – Always look forward to reading your posts!!

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  44. Thanks for sending this message our way. It’s a call to action, and I cease the moment to truly be a blessing. I pray that God will continue to bless and keep you and family, as you journey through your tribulations, but en route you are still inspiring and encouraging. Grace and peace to you.

    Like

  45. An excellent message that needs to be shared. I have for a long time believed that quote (James 4:17) and realize how many people either don’t know it or don’t understand what it is saying.

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  46. Christian Thomas Golden

    There’s a great line in Genesis that also speaks to this. Gen. 4:7 “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted. If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. Its desire is to have you, but you must overcome it.”

    I’ve always been struck by God’s emphasis on good, rather than bad. He wants us to focus on doing what is right. Why? The first thought that comes to my mind is simple: the time spent on doing what is right is time not sinning. More than that, it is time spent being a conduit of the will of God.

    It’s all good news!

    Thanks for the post.

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    • Great thoughts, Christian. I believe the simple/common sense answer that you mentioned it right – old maxims like “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” have so much wisdom. If we’re doing something good, we don’t have the time or opportunity to do bad.

      Like

  47. I LOVE this post!!! Thank you for this timely reminder.

    God bless!
    Dabney

    Like

  48. Reblogged this on Tidbits n Treasures and commented:
    Hi All,

    I’m sharing a post from another of my favorite bloggers today.

    “Good Intentions” – great reading, and food for thought.

    Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday and grace to DO good…

    Like

  49. “It’s so easy for Christians to come to a place where we believe that we’re good because we’re not behaving badly. By definition this is self-righteousness.”

    I want your gift, Bill: to say so much is so few words!

    🙂

    Like

  50. As always Bill, you lift me up with your encouragement from the word. Your life sets the bar high for what He can do through our lives if we let Him.

    Like

  51. Thank you, Bill. This is a great reminder. You are a wonderful writer, and you have a gift for putting Biblical truths into perspective and letting us know how we can put them into action in real life. Thank you so much for investing your time and energy into this blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Thank you for the re-blog, Patrick.

    Like

  53. Thank you for the re-blog, my friend.

    Like

  1. Pingback: “Good Intentions” 3/05/2015 by Bill Sweeney, stricken with ALS 18 years ago | God's group

  2. Pingback: “Good Intentions” 10/20/2014 by Bill Sweeney | God's group

  3. Pingback: Reblog: Good Intentions | Redneck Garage

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