Planning for the Future

Plan

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

If we are going to be pleasing to God, there are two critical factors for us to consider – God’s instructions and our decisions. At the turn of every new year, many of us make resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. With this in mind, let us consider some passages from the book of Proverbs about planning for the future. As we move forward in the new year, we need to be sure we are acting with wisdom.

We Are Responsible for Our Plans

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1).

Each one of us must plan for our own future. We cannot pass off this responsibility to others. This does not mean we should ignore what others say and simply do whatever we choose to do. The Scriptures are clear that we are to submit to those in authority in the various roles we fill in this life (cf. Ephesians 5:22; 6:1, 5; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13-14). However, submitting to authority does not mean we take no thought for the future and make our own plans accordingly. If we are going to do the will of God, develop our talents, improve our situation in life, and so on, it is up to us to plan to do so.

We Must Plan with God’s Will in Mind

Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).

We must be committed to serving God in all that we do. Throughout our lives, our plans may change; yet the will of God does not. “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). His word is “forever…settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). Therefore, we must do everything by His authority (Colossians 3:17). Making plans merely based upon good intentions will not be sufficient (cf. Matthew 7:21-23).

We Should Seek Counsel from Others

Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance” (Proverbs 20:18).

It is good to seek counsel and advice from others because none of us have all of the answers. Therefore, it will benefit us to take advantage of the wisdom that others have. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). However, we need to be sure we have the right counselors. The wise man warned, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). We need to find those who are walking in wisdom and following the will of the Lord and seek their counsel as we make plans for the future.

Evil Plans Turn God and Man Against Us

Evil plans are an abomination to the Lord, but pleasant words are pure” (Proverbs 15:26).

One who plans to do evil, men will call a schemer” (Proverbs 24:8).

One of the things that the Lord hates is “a heart that devises wicked plans” (Proverbs 6:16, 18). God knows our hearts (Hebrews 4:13); therefore, there is nothing hidden from Him. Having wicked motives and making plans based upon those intentions will cause the Lord to turn against us.

While our standing before God must be our primary concern, evil plans also affect how others see us. We will develop a bad reputation as others will label us as “a schemer” or “a mischievous person” (KJV). It is difficult to influence others for good when we have a reputation for evil. “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel” (Proverbs 18:19). When Saul was converted to Christ, the disciples in Jerusalem would not accept him because of his reputation as an enemy of the church (Acts 9:26). To maintain our reputation, we must not plan what is evil but what is good.

Planning Alone Is Not Enough

A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out” (Proverbs 20:5).

Plans are useless if we do not act to carry out our plans. If we have “understanding,” we will recognize this and not just talk about what we plan to do. “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23). This is similar to the connection made by James of the relationship between faith and works (James 2:14-18) – true faith must necessarily lead to doing what is right. In the same way, plans that are made according to godly wisdom must necessarily lead us to do what we have planned to do.

We Must Be Diligent to Carry Out Our Plans

The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).

Again, it is not enough to plan; we must act. Yet this does not mean we can simply act half-heartedly and that will be sufficient. We must be diligent. The wise man wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4). Carrying out our plans with diligence means we cannot take shortcuts in order to reach our goals faster. Remember what the wise man said in the verse above: “Everyone who is hasty comes to poverty.” We must do things the right way.

Conclusion

As we make plans for the future, let us do so with wisdom so we can please the Lord in all that we do.


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