Good intentions are wonderful. I think we can all agree with that. However, good intentions are not enough unless they translate into action. The Bible clearly teaches in Matthew 7 that the measure of a person’s intentions and heart is no less than their actions.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20, New King James Version)
I was really blessed and challenged this week by a story I ran across on lifesitenews.com about a man who exemplified the union of "intent" and action. The story begins with the following:
"They call retired salesman Don Ritchie "the watchman." Each day, as he sits in his favorite chair at his cliffside home, he looks up and scans the precipice that takes the lives of approximately 50 suicide jumpers each year, trying to discern the intentions of visitors.
When somebody seems to be lingering too long at the cliff, he walks out to talk to him.
"You can't just sit there and watch them," Ritchie told the AP in a recent interview. "You gotta try and save them. It's pretty simple.""
Later in the story:
"According to official estimates, Ritchie and his wife Moya have saved 160 lives during the 45 years they have lived near the Gap Park, a famous cliff frequented by sightseers that affords a beautiful view of the Sydney Harbor. However, the unofficial tally is closer to 400, according to the Sydney Morning Herald."
You can read the rest of the story here.
Cliff 'Watchman' Saves Hundreds From Suicide with Kindness and a Smile
When reading the story, the question posted in the post title came to my mind. I wondered, "Do I really believe the things I espouse?" You see, it's one thing to "believe" and another thing to do. For instance, many people think that to be a Christian you must only believe in God and believe in the Bible. But, even Satan and his demons believe.
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[a] (James 2:19-20, New King James Version)Footnotes:
- James 2:20 NU-Text reads useless.
Don Ritchie didn't have to talk to these people that most assume to be beyond help (or worse, unworthy of help). But he believes that life is precious and had a sincere love for these desperate people. When he could have sat in his house and just prayed he voluntarily gave time and effort he was under no obligation to give.
Most of us don't live on a cliff popular with suicide jumpers. But, if we care to look, all of us can and will find something we can do to live out our faith; to unify our intentions and actions into a God honoring and glorifying testimony of loving action. It could be giving a smile to a person in the store that has a downcast look (which requires actually noticing other people and thinking about them), it could be stopping to give a meal to a person obviously in need of a meal or it could be sending baby dolls to Mexico for little girls that wouldn't otherwise have them. Maybe it could be volunteering at your local Crisis Pregnancy Center or be-friending the unpopular kid at school who needs a loving friend. It could be any one of these or a million other things. The point is that belief and desires translates into action and action is inherently pro-active. You need to be looking for opportunities to minister. If you just wait for them to come to you innumerable opportunities will be missed.
As I have been challenged recently to test my own beliefs in light of what I do so I also challenge you to test your intents and desires by your deeds and fruit. Ask yourself the question, "Am I really searching for a way to live out my convictions?" And, "If I'm honest with myself...what does my inaction say about my faith?"
May God give us grace and strength to obediently and faithfully follow the path He has set before.
God bless and veritas supra omnis!
If you liked Mark's post, feel free to visit his blog and leave a comment on the post.