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  • Shawn Thornton

Good Intentions Do Little Good

Saturday - February 6th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 2:14-26

Suppose you see a brother or sister

who has no food or clothing, and you say,

“Goodbye and have a good day;

stay warm and eat well”—but then you

don’t give that person any food or clothing.

What good does that do?

James 2:15-16 NLT


Arnold talked the talk, but he never walked the walk. He had good intentions, but they did little good. He was likable but exasperated those who knew him.


Arnold and I were both studying for pastoral ministry in a Bible College setting. He sensed a call to ministry. Arnold had a big heart. You could see how God would use him as a pastor. But he never acted on his good intentions.


Arnold talked big about what he would do, but he never did it. He signed up to go out on a Saturday morning with other students cleaning litter along the side of a highway. He didn’t show up. Arnold agreed to help feed meals at a rescue mission but came up with some excuse when he didn’t go.


Each time an opportunity to help others presented itself, he talked passionately about how critical the need was. He got others excited about various causes and ministries. But, he rarely, if ever, acted on them himself.


James 2:15-16 tells the story of someone who claims to be a Christian who meets a man in need of food and clothes. Instead of actually giving the man clothes and food, he simply says, “Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” (James 2:16). How can a naked person stay warm without clothes? How can a hungry person eat well without food? Telling someone to have a good day while ignoring their practical needs fixes nothing.


Notice the good intentions of “be warm and eat well.” The good intentions accomplish nothing at all. The man in need will be warm when he receives clothes. He will eat well when someone gives him food. James emphasizes how genuine faith produces proof in how it behaves. The fruit of faith emerges. Without such fruit, there is no proof of saving faith.


Years after college, I heard that Arnold had genuinely come to Christ as Savior. He stopped living out a charade. Arnold no longer just talked a good game. What God was doing in his heart came out in how he lived his life!


Are you talking the talk but not walking the walk? Do you say well-intended words that have no meaning or impact? Are your intentions good, but your actual actions non-existent?


Genuine saving faith causes us to meet the needs of others - not just talk about helping them!

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