Being intentional means doing something “with intention or on purpose” (see definition at this link). It can be something good, or bad, or anywhere in between, and it is done on purpose and with awareness that we are doing it. Romans 8:28 is the classic “intentional” verse for Christians. It’s about God’s intentions towards those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ. That verse states:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Ephesians 5:1-20 gives us our response in being intentional followers of Jesus Christ. While what is written it’s not popular in today’s world (it never has been), Here are those verses:
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is intentional living as a Christian. It’s not a tightrope walk or a list of rules to be followed, but a way of life that blooms from a relationship with God. It stems from a willing heart and mind, and the key is found in verse 10–“find out what pleases the Lord.” While we are certainly not perfect at it all of the time, it is the direction we should be heading in. And it’s not done out a sense of legalism or following rules. It is done because God calls us to live that way.
Intentional living is a lot like a GPS system found in many cars. It shows you the path to where you want to go. A GPS requires putting in the right destination, where you are headed. It also has a beginning point. A GPS knows where you are starting your journey. And once you enter a destination, it calculates a route, a path for you to follow. In the same way, Intentional Living points you toward the path in God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (NIV)
The key to “intentional living” is found in Ephesians 5:10, “Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it” (The Message). It’s a roadmap for life. When put into practice each and every day, living intentionally changes your life.
You can experience the best God has for you when you live intentionally. Intentionality happens when you combine information, insight and action.
- Information: gathering the facts you need to know about the situation. It’s your thinking.
- Insight: looking at the situation in a new, heartfelt way. This insight often comes from Scripture; it also represents how we relate at an emotional level with other people and with God. It’s how you feel.
- Action: doing something with the information and insight you’ve gathered. Without action, nothing happens. It’s what you do.
- A balance of intentional Thinking, Feeling and Doing will result in an extraordinary life filled with peace, passion and progress.
Even though we have a path to follow, it’s easy to get so turned around in this world that we don’t know where we’re going. Always remember that God does the saving through His Son Jesus on the cross. The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8 NIV)
So, there’s nothing we can do to earn salvation. But we do show our faith by how we live our lives. We decide how we’re going to think and what we’re going to do when we wake up every day. By taking responsibility for our own thoughts, emotions and actions, the journey of intentional living has begun.
And, the best is yet to come in the five essential areas of life: Faith, Family, Health, Finances and Work. When you apply the teaching in Ephesians 5:10 to each area, you will embark on the intentional life in Christ that you desire. (Quote source here.)
In another article titled, “Is ‘Intentional’ the Christian Woman’s New Perfectionism?” by Brenda Rodgers, wife, mom, and blogger at BrendaRodgers.com, she makes a very valid point that being intentional is not about perfectionism. In her article she states:
In some ways my new habits of intentional living were helpful. I discovered areas of my life where I had been flippant and lazy. I realized that a dessert every day is probably not the healthiest choice and that my words to my husband often do come across as disrespectful.
However, there was another part of me that began to revert back to a pattern of behavior that I thought I had buried – a pattern of perfectionism. In my efforts to be intentional with my life, I started trying to control every aspect of it. I thought that the more intentional I was, the more smoothly my life would run.
Intentional living became a mask for perfectionism….
Living intentionally has nothing to do with being perfect and everything to do with knowing who qualifies us. Colossians 1:12-13 says, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Our behavior or works never qualifies us. Only God qualifies us. When we know who qualifies us, then we are willingly and freely intentional in other areas of our lives without the bondage of perfectionism.
Since God qualifies us, we no longer have to focus on intentionality in all areas of our life, but just in our relationship with Jesus. This is made clear in Proverbs 9:10. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” To fear the Lord means to honor Him, to put Him first, to revere Him above all else. When we fear the Lord, we gain wisdom into how to be intentional in our lives. As Psalm 90:12 states, wisdom comes from numbering our days. Numbering our days is being intentional in our relationship with Jesus because it acknowledges His sovereignty. The wisdom we gain from our intentional relationship with Him shows us how to be intentional in other areas of our lives. Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 16:3, and Psalm 143:8 also explain that being intentional with God produces wisdom for being intentional in all areas of life.
If you’re like me and have been busy trying to be “intentional” in your life, ask yourself if it is a mask for perfectionism. Anything we do in Jesus’ name should bring us joy – not burden. I, however, experienced anything but joy. Instead, I felt anxious to produce the perfect system that in turn would produce the perfect results.
Today make a commitment to only be intentional in your relationship with Jesus. Allow intentionality in other areas of your life to be from the overflow of your relationship with Him. (Quote source and entire article here.)
Too many things in our lives just happen – we don’t plan for them, we don’t anticipate them, we don’t even want some of them, they just happen. Even things that are part of our regular routine have a degree of ambiguity about them. We know that we have to show up at work at a certain time but then what? We don’t know – we just react to whatever crosses our path.
And that’s often how we live life – unintentionally. Life just happens and we react to it. Sure there will always be a degree of uncertainty in life. You can’t plan for every event, especially when you depend on other people. But what about the areas of life where you have a choice? What about the areas under your control? Things like – oh, let’s say encouraging someone, or showing kindness, or helping someone.
Here’s my suggestion – as Christians let’s begin to live life intentionally. I think this is the point of scripture that is often missed. When the Bible tells us to be something or to do something the idea is that we have to intentionally plan to be/do that thing. The “one another” passages of the Bible come to mind:
Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
Be kind and compassionate to one another – Ephesians 4:32
Comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Love one another – John 13:34
Pray for one another – James 5:16
Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
Build up one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Forgive one another – Ephesians 4:32
These passages, and others, take for granted that we are being intentional in the way we live. It’s difficult to do any of these things without some forethought and planning on our part. I think that God wants us to live intentional Christian lives.
How would your life change if you became more intentional? If you planned to encourage someone today instead of waiting until the opportunity presented itself? If you planned to serve someone even if they haven’t expressed a need? If you planned to love someone even if you don’t see any specific reason other than that God put them in front of you today? More importantly how would the lives of other people be affected if you became more intentional?
God is a God of the intentional. He plans and He acts according to His plan. As His people we also need to be intentional. We need to plan how we will express His love to others in concrete, specific, intentional ways. (Quote source here.)
“God is a God of the intentional”…. I’ll end this post with the words from 1 Corinthians 5:17—Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. . . .
The old has passed away . . .
Behold . . .
The new has come. . . .
YouTube Video: “Intentional” by Travis Greene: