Are We to Plan?

“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 and brag. All such boasting is evil.”  (James 4:13-16)

Some of us like to plan and set targets and priorities, while others enjoy a more spontaneous approach to life.  Which approach is best?  What does the Bible teach about planning?  Should we plan for the future or take it a day at a time?  Does trusting God and walking by faith imply we are not to plan?

Is James teaching in James 4:13-17 that planning is evil?  Yes, if planning is done with a selfish intent, void of the divine guidance of God.  James previously states that human wisdom (often filled with envy, greed and selfish ambition) is clearly NOT from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.   And it often leads to disorder and every evil practice.  (James 3:14-16)

Jesus told the story of a wealthy farmer who used human wisdom and logic to determine a future plan (Luke 12), and He called him a fool.

We must be extremely careful in our planning.  Our old nature is waiting to raise its ugly head and lead us down the wrong path.  Our heart is deceitful and beyond cure.  (Jeremiah 17:9)  So what do we do?  How do we honor God in our planning?

  1. Die to self.  Repent. Surrender agendas, fears, doubts and desires to God.  (Luke 9:23)
  2. Acknowledge the sovereignty of God.  We think we can plan and accomplish so much, yet the truth is, we can do nothing apart from Him.  “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
  3. Pray.  Seek God first and foremost.  Ask for wisdom, and take the necessary time to hear from God.  And keep on listening to the Spirit of God who lives in you, urging you to know and do God’s will.  (Romans 8:26-27Matthew 6:33-34)
  4. Plan in light of the clear purposes of God.  Continually ask: How does this idea or plan align with God’s Master Plan?  How does this help fulfill the purposes of God?  Are the people involved becoming more like Christ?  Will this plan advance the Kingdom?  (Matthew 28:19-20)
  5. Surround yourself with wise counselors.  Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  (Proverbs 15:22)  Wise means godly, that is, those who hear and obey God.
  6. Trust God, even when plans seem to fail.  God is always at work.  Stay faithful no matter what. Expect the unexpected and keep walking by faith. (Romans 8:28)

God planned and purposed this world, and we are created in His image, therefore we naturally desire to plan.  That’s a good and righteous thing, as long as we plan in accordance with the will of God.

Jeff Wilson

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