“It’s the thought that counts!”
Is it? Really?
- I thought of getting you a card for your birthday.
- I thought of having sex with you.
- I thought of making supper for you.
- I thought of buying you a coffee.
- I thought of giving you a kiss.
When I think of an action and don’t follow through it leaves me feeling kind of hallow. Also, left undone, intentions can ring of empty lip service as well as being contra to what James says: Faith without works is dead. (2:17) We deceive ourselves when we think that our good intentions are enough.
We easily understand this principle in the statement: “I thought of allowing Christ to rule in my life.” Yet if we only have the intention – well, we know what the result it is.
Just because I have the knowledge, of what God says, doesn’t mean I get the reward – the runner’s prize that we are encouraged to chase: Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. (1 Cor 9:24-25)
The accumulation of Biblical knowledge without practical application isn’t where revelation is found. Simply reading 1 Corinthians 9 doesn’t mean that I am actually doing the work of training for a race.
It’s in the follow through that the proof is found. I can study, learn and memorize all about love from 1 Corinthians 13 where I’m told to bear up, believe the best, hope and endure. But if I don’t actually do the: bearing up, believing the best, hoping and enduring – then it’s not love but mere intentions.
“on your marks”
Knowledge is the beginning of the race, “on your marks.” This is the easy and painless part. Sitting in the comfort of your home with your favourite hot beverage while reading and studying about … forgiveness.
Then, conviction comes, “get set“: Even though my husband had offended me, I shouldn‘t have responded that way. Still sitting in that chair at home; alone with my thoughts – God doesn‘t require anything from me at this point (not too hard, yet). That’s not to say that the knowledge we get from studying God’s Word isn’t worthwhile, it is – you get back what you put into studying it. However, this isn’t the reward that Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 9.
When I hear the crack of the starter’s pistol, this is when I move into revelation from God’s Word. It’s not in the being on my mark and getting set that my works are seen and proved to myself; but in the “GO.” When the mere academics of learning God’s Word morphs my heart into practical action. How I respond to an offence from my brother is the “GO.” This is the definer of growth. (James 1:22).
We’re all in a race. I’ve found that the majority of my training for heaven (1 Corinthians 6:2) has been worked through the sphere of marriage. Thinking and reading about how to have a great marriage through forgiveness is a great place to start. But if you don’t leave the starter’s block of good intention – you’ll never get there.
“Information is not transformation – Doing is”