Friday, June 16, 2017

"Good Intentions Matter"

2nd Chronicles 6.8-9 NIV
Cartoon by Patrick Rowan (
“...the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart. Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood — he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.’ ”

Do you believe “the road to hell is paved with good intentions?” I don’t. It’s not a Bible saying. Nobody knows how this phrase evolved into popular language.[1] Many people dislike the idea of “good intentions” especially if they’re linked to inaction. But I think good intentions matter.

David had the idea to build a temple for the Lord. The building project was “in his heart”. God commended David for his good intention...

“…you did well to have it in your heart.”

By “good intentions” I am not referring to “creative avoidance.” These so-called good intentions are only useless justifications or lousy excuses. The road to hell probably is paved with these type of intentions. These are lies we tell ourselves and others to bolster our sense of worth. But without sincere good intentions, nothing good would ever happen.

God was glad David wanted to build the temple, but God had a different plan. The Lord approved of David’s good intentions but was not thereby bound to help David perform them. It was God’s intention that another man construct His house. In this case, God’s intention and David’s did not match up. But that did not mean David’s intention was pavement on the road to hell.

Good intentions should fill my heart. They should capture my imagination and drive me in the pursuit of excellence. Good intentions matter to God but He is not thereby bound to help me perform them. On occasion, one of my good intentions and God’s plan match up. I love it when that happens!

The "Road to Hell" cartoon was created by Toronto illustrator Patrick Rowan.

[1] The 18th century English poet and essayist, Samuel Johnson, is often thought to be the source of the popular proverb “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” but he may not deserve credit for it. The idiom probably derives from a similar statement by St. Bernard of Clairvaux about 1150, L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés ou désirs ("Hell is full of good intentions or wishes"). The origin of “The road to…” part is a mystery.

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