Amplify | Spiritual Intentionality
"…and take every thought captive to obey Christ…" – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Paul’s life was all about intentionality. Because Jesus had captured him, he focused on becoming more like Christ and gaining all that Jesus had for him. He pressed toward the goal and strained forward to what was ahead of him (Phil 3:12). He ran the race to win (1 Cor 9:26-27) and urged Timothy to focus on the mission and not become entangled in worldly pursuits that would take them off their course (2 Tim 2:4).
We are all very intentional about the things that are most important to us. Just think about your life. If you’re dedicated to your work, I’m guessing you are very intentional about what you do, when you do it, how you think about it, etc. If you have a passion for football, you probably know your team’s schedule, when they’re on television, how you can orient your day so as to watch the game, the team members and positions and stats, etc. You are engaged and pursuing what is important to you.
Intentionality in our walk with Jesus is vital. I’m referring to an overt – not casual – pursuit of God and God’s glory; fixing our eyes on Jesus and actively striving to be like him; being conscious of every aspect of life so we can walk in a manner that’s worthy of our calling (Eph 4:1); putting off the old self and putting on the new self so that we can grow up in every way into Christ (Eph 4:15).
As we think about our intentionality we should know that:
Jesus lived a life of intentionality as his consuming desire was to fulfill God’s plan (Mt 26:39; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38). He was intentional and committed to what was ahead of him when it came time to show himself as the Messiah in Jerusalem and face the cross (Luke 9:51).
Any time Scripture calls us to obedience, we know there is a call to intentionality. Obedience doesn’t happen by accident or by thinking that instructions are suggestions. Without intentionality, we will not follow as we should. While there are too many examples to list, here are a few New Testament commands that require intentionality:
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Cor 10:31
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” – Matt 6:19-20
Also, being led by the Spirit does not do away with intentionality. Being led by the Spirit means God has complete sway over a life that longs to follow him, and we will pay attention to his plan for us.
Being more intentional
In the end, being intentional about following Jesus is not primarily about simply being more disciplined. It’s mainly about being captured and consumed by Jesus. When following Jesus becomes the dominating priority of life, intentionality will follow. While this does not mean discipline is unimportant, our hearts will not align with God’s heart if he doesn’t reign in our lives.
If intentionality is lacking, here are a few things you should do every day:
- Pray. God answers persistent prayer. He will draw near to you as you draw near to him.
- Confess and repent. This is often a problem for long-time Christians. We lose our sensitivity to our own sin. And if you’re like me, there is much to confess – always. If your walk with Jesus is not what it should be confession and repentance is needed.
- Read Scripture and engage it. Seek to find application and pray about it. Use a devotional to initiate your thinking. Sheila and I use the devotional on desiringgod.org.
- Make a deeper commitment to the church. Absorbing Pastor Rick’s sermons and using your spiritual gifts to serve others is important to becoming mature in Christ.
Remember, while disciplined intentionality is vital if we are going to mature, the goal is for Jesus to consume us. We are intentional about the things we care about.
Waldean Wall is a member of Sovereign Grace Church who teaches the Money and The Gospel Course on Sunday mornings. He is a national speaker for the financial planning industry. He writes at moneyandthegospel.com and is the author of Money and the Gospel: 5 steps in creating a gospel-first vision and plan for your money.
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