There is an unspoken, yet firmly established rule in my household: The one who cooks dinner doesn’t have to clean the kitchen. This might sound like a good and fair rule but the problem is that I’m not typically the maker of the evening meal. Therefore, It should come as no surprise that I’ve become quite adept at loading a dishwasher!
Over the years,
and through forced practice, I’ve honed this particular skill to where I can clean counter tops quicker than gossip can spread through a Baptist church. Now that’s fast! However, there was certainly a time when I didn’t take this responsibility very seriously.
I can clearly remember a morning from many years ago when I walked into kitchen only to be greeted by Penny giving me “the look.” Noticing that she was standing in the middle of a messy and stinky kitchen without a clean bowl for her morning cereal, I suddenly realized that I had failed in my promise to clean up the previous evening before heading to bed. We had been married just long enough for me to have become well acquainted with “the look.” I had to either start talking fast or just back out of the kitchen very slowly.
My newlywed naivete, however, led to two rookie mistakes. First, I stayed in the kitchen. Not a smart move. Second, I tried to soothe my agitated bride not with words of apology but by trying to convince her that at least I had had good intentions. “I really did plan on cleaning the kitchen last night,” I told her. “I know that I said I would since you spent all that time cooking such a great meal, but I ended up watching the game until late and was just sooooo tired when it was over.”
I gave her my best smile, assuming that she would be mollified simply by the knowledge that even though I hadn’t followed through on a promise, I had at least planned on doing so. WRONG. I learned that day that wives are not impressed by their husband’s good intentions.
Just like my wife, I’ve learned that God is also not impressed by my good intentions. I say this because good intentions, without follow through, end up being nothing more than broken promises, and broken promises aren’t appreciated by anyone. To make my point a little clearer, take a moment to consider the following 2 passages from Scripture.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, (Luke 14:28–29, ESV)
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. (Ecclesiastes 7:8, NIV)
Making a promise is an easy thing to do. It doesn’t cost us a thing to tell another person, or even God, about the things we plan or intend to do. I doesn’t matter if we make commitments even with the purest and most sincere intentions; if we fail to follow through, what value was there in making the promise in the first place? Should God give you bonus points because you really meant to do that thing?
Just like you, I have started many days with good intentions, even great ones. I just knew that by the end of the day I would have, to use Jesus’ illustration, built many tall, wonderful towers. I would get so excited about some new project or I would psych myself up to finally do that thing I’ve been putting off for so long. However, the problem was that way too many times, those good intentions weren’t matched by my commitment to follow through.
If I’m being honest, my life has a lot of half-built towers; grand plans and great intentions that were never seen to completion. I don’t like doing so, but when I do take time to look back and reflect on those failed commitments, just like the Bible passage says, I start to hear a mocking voice ringing in my ear. I remember all my failings and shortcomings and all the ways I’ve disappointed others, especially God. But then I remember and reaffirm an extremely important truth – that mocking voice DOES NOT come from my Heavenly Father! (Romans 8:1)
Instead of condemning me for all the times I’ve failed to follow through, God lovingly encourages me to try again while gently reminding me to focus less one how passionate I am at the start of something and more on how dedicated I will be at the end.
Today, I still want you to make plans to accomplish great things for God. However, take time to count the cost of what you hope to do, ask God to keep you focused and committed on the plans you have made for Him, and then celebrate at the end of the day when those good intentions have turned into finished towers.