I remember a story in the news concerning a man who was
at a neighbor's party. He returned home to get something
he needed, and heard a noise. Thinking a burglar was hiding
in the closet, he opened the door and shot the intruder.
Immediately, the man realized he had shot and killed his
daughter. Later, he learned she was hiding in the closet
as part of a game or joke.
This is a sad example of the fact that good intentions
aren't always good.
Choices can result in failure, even if our intentions are
In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus emphasizes careful decision making,
while illustrating the lesson with a man's intention to
build a tower. He says, "For which of you, intending to
build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost,
whether he has enough to finish it --- lest, after he has
laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who
see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build
and was not able to finish.'"
We may have good intentions, but Jesus teaches us to count
the cost before acting to accomplish our intentions. I'm
sure you can relate to this lesson. Who hasn't seen good
intentions spoiled by poor decisions?
Like Repairing a VCR
I can relate this lesson to an attempt at VCR repair. One
day I tore into my VCR with the intention of freeing a jammed
tape (it was jammed because my daughter put a toy key chain
into the slot before cramming in a tape).
I took the VCR apart, but failed to free the jammed tape.
Then, when I tried to put the VCR back together, I failed
again. The tape was still jammed, and now the VCR was in
If I had counted the cost before looking for a screwdriver,
I would have taken the VCR to a repair shop rather than
You see, good intentions aren't necessarily bad. But the
choices we make to accomplish our intentions, render the
result good or bad.
We Can't Sin to Accomplish Good Intentions
Herod harassed the church. In doing so, he killed the apostle
James. Since Herod saw this pleased the Jews, he imprisoned
Peter with the intent of putting him to death to gain favor
with the Jews (Acts 12:1-4).
The intent to please the Jews was not necessarily wrong.
In fact, one may argue that it was politically necessary
from Herod's view. But the problem arises in the manner
Herod sought to please the Jews --- namely murder.
As a sinful man, Herod was willing to murder a person
to accomplish his good intentions. But as children of God,
we must seek to accomplish good intentions through righteous
means rather than sinful acts.
Good Intentions Do Not Justify Sin
Paul, speaking before the Sanhedrin, professed to have lived
with a "perfectly good conscience before God up to this
day" (Acts 23:1). While doing so, he locked up saints in
prison, cast his vote to put them to death, punished them
in the synagogues, tried to force them to blaspheme, and
pursued them to foreign cities (Acts 26:11-12).
Before becoming a Christian, Paul had good intentions
while persecuting Christians. Yet he was lost in sin. He
had to be baptized, washing away his sin, and calling on
the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).
From Paul we learn that good intentions do not justify
The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions!
One day I was listening to G. Gordon Liddy as he discussed
the Great Depression with an economist. They were united
in their view that congress worsened the depression by government
involvement, rather than allowing our free market economy
to make the correction. When making this point, the economist
said he wasn't questioning congress' intentions, but their
good intentions didn't change the devastating result of
Mr. Liddy agreed, commenting that the road to hell is
paved with good intentions.
I began to think about Mr. Liddy's profound and thought-provoking
statement. It's true, the road to hell is paved with good
intentions. A person may have good intentions, but the method
of achieving the intention may result in disaster.
Obedience Counts, Not Intentions
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the
kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father
who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that
day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and
in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many
miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew
you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness'" (Matt.
Some people who have good intentions, able to perform
magnificent works upon the earth, will be surprised at the
judgment. They won't enter heaven because they didn't obeyed
God. They will be surprised to learn that obedience counts,
Just like a young person who intends to do her homework
after school, but falls asleep; she goes to school the next
day and gets an F. It doesn't matter whether we intend to
obey God or not, all that matters is whether we obey.
Sin is sin. Good intentions are only good if we follow through
with righteous actions in obedience to God --- the road
to hell is paved with good intentions!