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17th October: Good Intentions

... the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands. Isaiah 32:8 (NIV)

Good intentions by themselves, whether in medicine or in any other department of life, are never enough. Yet many of us indulge in them without finally delivery the goods. Often there are good reasons for this. Too often there are not. In serious medical situations, the results of this kind of failure can be regrettable, disastrous and even tragic. According to an old saying, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Isaiah is certainly not talking about the road to Hell. His subject is the kingdom of righteousness -- the Lord's rule -- where things are given their right values. `No longer will the fool be called noble', he writes, `nor the scoundrel be highly respected'. The fool's failure to do good things tends to be negative; they just don't get done. The scoundrel's failure to do good things is more likely to be positive; they are deliberately rejected. Neither fool nor scoundrel is noble. Nobility by God's standards consists in making noble plans and carrying them out as noble deeds. That is the standard of noble people.

In the language of today's thinking, the word `noble' does not sit easily on one's lips. It is a bit too grand, a bit too `good', even a bit pretentious. And certainly it is not a word to be used lightly. Just the same, it is a fine word, which denotes a fine concept. We should not discard it, but should keep it for its right use. Isaiah's sentence gives it very proper use and tells us in the highest terms much more about the very practical matter of good intentions. He makes it very clear that good intentions by themselves are not enough for now or for eternity.

Help me, Lord, to be both good and thoughtful in my intentions
and also responsible and faithful in carrying them out.

Further reading: Is 32:1-8. Pr 20:6.


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