By Heather Lopez

So I was sitting in church when the pastor said something that really struck a chord with me, “We want to be judged by our intentions, but then we want to judge others by their actions.”

You see, over the last year, I have had many good “intentions,” but my “actions” might not have demonstrated it. Sometimes I self-justified that at least my intentions were good. And sometimes it was a matter of self-sabotage, in which something inside me could not accept something good and I ended up destroying things “unintentionally.”

I believe people try to make judgements based on what is observable. Since you can’t observe someone’s intentions, you judge them based on what you see them do. Knowing someone’s intentions requires them telling you and you trusting what they tell you.  This is hard for people to do, so they take the easier route of observable action.

Now imagine this: You are a police officer and you arrive at a scene of a homicide. There is a woman there with a bloody knife in her hands and a man lying on the ground dead with a stab wound. The woman admits the man was her husband and that she stabbed him. She also says that her husband was coming after her and she raised the knife in self-defense, and that she did not “intend” to kill him.  Well, if the police officer trusted and believed the woman’s words about her intentions, he would stop there. But, as we know as people, the police officer is going to gather evidence regarding the physical environment, the angle of the wounds, any other marks that may be on the woman’s body, any evidence of past abuse, etc. to determine what the woman’s actions demonstrated. The police officer will be seeking out observable data for his investigation that would then be turned over to the courts to decide the woman’s fate.  It is by observations, not the woman’s intentions, that she is judged.

Now let’s turn to God for a moment. Because people want to naturally observe things to trust them, it makes it hard to trust someone they can not directly observe, God.  People start looking for evidence of His actions. They start seeking out miracles or hoping for prayers to be answered. If they don’t experience miracles or their prayers being answered right away, they may choose not to believe in God. But, it is in FAITH, that we must trust in God even when we do not see any observable actions. God must be taken at His Word of His intentions. Your prayers are answered, but not always in the way you want them to be or not always in the timing you want them to be answered in. It is not about our plan, it is about His. God should not be judged by His actions.

Now getting back to the Intention vs. Action topic, let’s consider how we move forward. While God does not judge us based on our actions (thanks to Jesus), people DO. Now we might have the best of “intentions,” our actions will speak louder than words to other people because they are people and not God.  This means that if you truly want to be a good servant of God, you need to consider your own actions as people might transfer their judgement of you onto God. I recently had a woman message me questioning my actions and chastising me for sharing God while acting in a way contrary to God. You see, in her observation, she is right. When you act in a way that leads people not to trust you, while talking about God & Jesus, you are impacting their own ability to trust and have faith in God. Even if you have good intentions, like I did in the situation, the woman could not observe them based on the bottomline of my actions. But, how do you reign in this type of situation? Well, remember that we are All sinners, and we will mess up sometimes. But, this is the beauty of having a Savior. We are forgiven. We have to remind people that we are not perfect or expected to be perfect like Jesus. We will err and it’s okay. Sometimes people want to believe that Christians think they are holier than thou, and in some cases there a a few, but in reality Christians understand that they are not better than anyone else for believing. Because of people’s perceptions, they interpret our intentions falsely. It is not God who requires us to behave like Jesus, it is other people who expect this from us in order for them to become a believer.

So with that in mind, because I would love for everyone to find This Peace of knowing they are Forgiven, I will do my best to Act in a way that would not lead others to doubt God’s existence.