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Intentionality

Let what you say be simply "Yes" or "No"; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew 5:37
Intentionality Book Cover

plan to follow through

In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we learn about a Roman army officer, or centurion, who deploys two envoys—Jewish elders and a group of his friends—to implore Jesus to heal a beloved and dying servant. The friends, however, stop Jesus before he gets to the house with a message from the centurion: “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof….But say the word, and let my servant be healed” (Luke 7:6–7). Jesus marvels at the man’s faith, and when the friends return to the centurion’s home, they find the servant healed (7:9–10).

no to excuses

Imagine if the centurion’s friends had arrived home and found the servant dead. What if Jesus had intended to heal the servant, and then got busy and forgot? The centurion’s steadfast trust in Jesus would have died with his servant. We see where this line of thought is going, don’t we? We forget to do what we say we’re going to do. We have good intentions and crumby follow-through. Our friends cannot trust that our yes means yes, and soon they stop relying on us altogether. Maybe they decline our invitations more than they accept. Or maybe they simply feel unseen and are waiting for us to notice their absence. James 2:26 says, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” Empty promises and flattery portend relational death, but intentionality cures excuses.

yes to planning

From the manger to the cross, Jesus planned and executed every single action he took with precision and purpose. He washed feet. Fished. Broke bread with society’s outcasts—all to show the world the love of the Father who had sent him. We know we’re not Jesus. We know we will muck up the works from time to time and let our friends down. Yet though we follow Christ imperfectly, we must push past our fear of failing them and instead, love them intentionally. To do that, we must plan.

Some synonyms for intention are aim, goal, direction, end. Intentionality in friendships does not mean we stress over every action we take and every word we utter. It means we bear in mind several biblical goals of friendship:

  • To spur one another on to love and good works
  • To encourage one another and build each other up
  • To challenge each other

Planning gives legs to our best intentions and walks in the steps of our Savior. It is yanking on heavy boots to report for duty and slipping on heels for a night on the town. It’s in the trenches and on the dance floor. Planning to be intentional in our friendships will carry us along and, like the centurion’s friends, will not leave us disappointed in the end.

inventory

  1. To be intentional as Christ was intentional, we need to spend time with him. Plan how you will do that this week.
  2. Do you tend to be the friend who asks questions, or the one who answers them?
  3. What are some ways you can be intentional with one or two of your friends this week?
  4. In the rhythms of your life, what does it look like to be a dependable friend?
  5. Can you be friends with a person whom you don’t empathize with? Who doesn’t empathize with you?
  6. Which is harder to do in your friendships; practice humility or share struggles? Why?

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