The Recognition of Good Intentions
Matthew 26:41
Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Our Lord dealt very tenderly with these disciples. No reproachful word passed his lips. He was considerate of the influence which bodily frailty can exert upon the will; and did not immediately take up the idea that the will had swerved. "The priests on duty in the temple were expected to keep awake all night, and were severely punished if the temple captain found them asleep. Peter and James and John could not watch for one-tenth part of that time, yet their Lord upbraids them very gently, and ascribes their seeming indifference to physical exhaustion." When God refused to permit David to build his temple, he graciously recognized his good intention: "Thou didst well that it was in thine heart." And yet we have a familiar proverb showing the uselessness of "good intentions:" "Hell is paved with good intentions." On what conditions, then, can our intentions be recognized and accepted? We can ourselves see that an intention may be sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

I. WHEN AN INTENTION IS A MERE SENTIMENT, IT IS WRONG. It need not be wrong as a sentiment; it is wrong if it is treated as an intention, and its acceptance is expected as such. It is a mere sentiment when there is

(1) no resolve of will in relation to it; and

(2) when there is no watching for opportunity of carrying it out.

Our intentions are revealed as mere sentiments whenever we let the chance of fulfilling them pass. This we are constantly doing, and this fact has created the proverb.

II. WHEN AN INTENTION IS A REAL PURPOSE, IT IS RIGHT. Then it is thought. fully, not impulsively, formed. Due account is taken of circumstances and abilities. Fitting occasion is watched for, and energy is shown in overcoming difficulties.

III. AN INTENTION IS NOT MADE WRONG BY BEING HINDERED IN EXECUTION. People often mistake by assuming that failure shows our purpose to have been wrong. But there are other things to take into account beside our intentions. We can always have this assurance, God knows whether we would have done what we intended if we could. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

WEB: Watch and pray, that you don't enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

What is Watchfulness
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