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Planning in God's Way

James 4:15-17
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. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them. (NIVUK)

Planning is not wrong, but to assume that your plans will always be right, is wrong! The world of trading, retail, stock markets and investments are obsessed with guessing the future, but the cycle of credit crises proved they could not do it. The Queen of the United Kingdom was reported to have asked an economics professor, "It is awful, why did nobody see it coming?" The learned economist replied, "At every stage, somebody was relying on somebody else; and everybody thought they were doing the right thing". You see, because only God knows the future, no human being can be an adequate reference point for anybody else. We all need to submit to the Lord's wisdom (James 1:5-7).

It used to be common in Britain for churches to put the letters 'DV' in their announcements for future events. 'DV' stands for Deo Volente, which simply means 'God willing' or 'if God wills'. It is a way of saying that although we have made these plans, we submit them to being overruled by God. Proverbs 16:9 in the New Living Translation says, "We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps". Wise people understand that: they are careful about planning but are watching to see how the Lord may rearrange the outcome.

Foolish people assume that they know the future. In order to attract other people to invest in their schemes they boast of profit they cannot guarantee. In other spheres, social advantage is offered, academic success or even relationships leading to love and marriage. Boasting about what we cannot deliver is evil. Satan has been tempting people in that way for years; even offering the world to Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:8-11), for which he was rebuked. Money-makers and match-makers alike need to be aware of the blindness of their own hearts before they wreck others (Matthew 15:14).

As Christians, we know that we should behave like this, but we are too easily swept away by corporate enthusiasm, or the 'vision' of the entrepreneur. When we catch ourselves in boasting mode, it is time to remember that if we fail to do our business in a God-fearing way, we are sinning. However, putting our plans under God's scrutiny is the best possible strategy; because He really does know best. And He understands the requirements for both disciplined service and the market place; as Micah 6:8 says, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." If that humble relationship with the Lord governs your heart, then you can trust Him to help you each day at work, entrusting the future to Him too.

Dear Lord. Thank You for being the only person who is right all the time. You are holy and righteous in all Your ways, and You know the future. Forgive me for despising Your plans to integrate Your people into Your future, and for promising to give wisdom to those who are humble enough to ask. Please help me to make my plans with Your wisdom. Yet may I hold them lightly, accepting Your right to divert my course and that of those around me, so You may have the praise and glory. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams