25 Jul The Problem Of Planning Too Much
We as human beings are created to be time conscious. We don’t live for the moment, we plan ahead and that is responsible living. And research has shown that people who think ahead fare better in life. They save for a rainy day, or they plan for winter. We saw that from the example of Joseph, who saved during the years of abundance so that he managed to feed everyone during the years of famine. I mean it’s clear no one can do well without planning. They will be all over the place, they are reactive, and their life will ultimately be in a mess. But the person who plans well will have the last laugh.
But how about people who plans too much, and to a point that they believe so much in their plan, thinking that’s the only way that could guarantee them success. Now, that’s what I meant by planning too much to a point of missing God’s grace. There are Christians who thinks so much ahead that you can see their trust is in their plans instead of the counsel of God. And there you will see either they become proud, or they lose their simple joy. So as a result, that planning has drawn them away from the grace of God. Now, I think when we are living in a very knowledgeable and affluent society, we tend to fall into the trap of planning too much ahead. So in good times, we put our trust in a good and stable economy. We plan so much about advancing our career, accumulating our wealth, or even having big dreams about retiring in comfort. But in times of pandemic like this, we hear how our economy is entering a recession, and people start to feel uncertain or disoriented, and they try to make plans about saving, about being careful with every cent they spend. So you see, when times are good people plan out of greed, yet when times are bad people plan out of fear. Yet my brethren, where is God in all these? I mean it’s not wrong to plan. But it is definitely not right to be planning without God. And what God dislikes about the human heart is its tendency to trust in its own counsel which is very much influenced by the world around him. And many Christians don’t realize they’re living that way all the time. Now, if we trust in riches, we will fall because of our riches. Similarly, if we trust our own planning, we will fall because of our planning also.
Now, when I am leading a church in this time of pandemic, the Lord impressed upon my heart: “Vincent, if you have been faithful about preaching the gospel and seeking the counsel of God, there is no need to worry as of this point of time. The pandemic doesn’t make a difference. God will provide, God will open the way, God will accomplish much more through the church”. And amen to that. We saw that is indeed happening to our church. Of course, there are brethren among us who suffer a drop in their businesses, or maybe a couple of them suffer a pay cut in times like this. But none of us are brought into a dire situation, where their livelihood is greatly affected. So we know God protect his faithful ones. While no one can plan for a pandemic, God always make plans for His loved ones.
So as Christians, there are things we need to really learn from this episode of pandemic. For one, we know we should not be drawn into fear. Second, we should be even more conscious of God’s guidance and presence when the World is lost. And third, we should know the good we’re to do in times like this and really do it.
Now, I want to draw you to a passage that serves us such reminder in times like this.
<James 4:13-17>: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
Now, when times are good, we hear a lot of such boasting in the hearts of men, isn’t it? In a knowledgeable and affluent society, people trust their own judgments and plans for the future. When business is good, shares are rising, investments are pouring into our economy, people make big plans to enrich themselves. Christians will even sacrifice church meetings for their jobs. Yet, who would have known such a pandemic will hit us? So actually how this scripture had sounded the alarm: “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow…” You could just vanish, or your wealth, or your big plans could just vanish… So by that we’ve to know my brethren, God is killing the “boasting and bragging” of men, and such boasting and bragging can be seen in how man excessively make plans for themselves. Even at this time, you see people are trying to capitalize on the pandemic. Investors are teaching people how to invest at this time, or make the best use of this opportunity, so as to make a killing when the pandemic is over. Or businessmen who tries to mark up prices of their goods and services, now all I can tell you is that such planning and capitalizing is evil in the sight of God. As far as the pandemic is concerned, all I can tell you is that the test is not over yet. God is still trying the world, and God is still refining the church. As believers, we must rid ourselves of all such boasting and bragging.
Yet, it is equally important to know that the Bible didn’t end on a passive note. The Bible didn’t tell us not to plan, “Oh just live by the day and remain passive”. No. The bible ended with this phrase in <v17>: If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. Now, in times like this, instead of planning too much ahead, we must learn to do the good that is instructed by the Lord now. The good can be spending more time with your family. It can be showing more concern to brethren who are affected because of the pandemic. It can be showing kindness to friends and colleagues, or even help recommend jobs to people who lost theirs. Or it can even be giving donations to institutions helping the society. There are many good we can do, and ought to do in times like this. If we’re just absorbed with self-survival, and excessively make plans only for ourselves, then we would have missed the opportunity to do the good which God has intended for us to do at this point of time. Now my brethren, do the good which God has shown to you now, and you will not end up making plans in vain.