As we welcome the new year, we come to a time when we usually make resolutions for the year ahead. We make reflections on the past year, and moving forward we hope to make improvements and continue to be productive in the new year. Is it good for Christians to plan and prepare for the future? Yes it is! Let’s see what the Bible has to say about planning ahead:
1. Without Planning
There is a saying that, if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Confucius had this saying: “A man who does not think and plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” A failure to plan suggests a lack of goal or direction in our life. Certainly, we do trust God that He will take care of us and help to sort out our lives; but that does not mean we do not need to plan. The Bible teaches us the importance of planning. For example, we need to plan for our physical needs. The Proverbs writer bids us to learn from the ants, which gather food in the summer in preparation for the winter (Proverbs 6:6-8). Likewise, we plan and prepare ourselves (whether by studying to get good grades, or upgrading our skills) so that we will be able get a job and provide for our families. Also, we ought to plan and prepare for our children. “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children…” (Proverbs 13:22). We need to plan so that we will have something to leave behind for our children, and not leave them in poverty.
More importantly, we need to plan and prepare for our Christian journey. Jesus exhorts all who desires to follow Him to first count the cost (Luke 14:26-33). Just as we need to plan so as to make sure we have enough funds to finish a building project, we need to plan and prepare ourselves so that we can finish our Christian journey. Unfortunately, there are those who started following Jesus but fail to finish. As Jesus illustrated in the parable of the sower, some who had accepted the gospel fall when persecutions come, and others fall due to the cares and distractions of this world (Matthew 13:18-23). Christians must be prepared to overcome the cost to follow Jesus!
2. Wrong Planning
Planning is good, but it is possible to plan wrongly. One example of wrong planning that happens is over planning. Over planning happens when we worry too much about the future and all the potential problems that may come. Over planning causes us to be overly busy and to miss out on what is truly important. Jesus exhorts us not to worry, because we have a Father in Heaven who is looking out for us and takes care of our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Instead of worrying and being anxious, we are exhorted to bring everything to God in prayer, and He will give us peace and comfort (Philippians 4:6-7).
Another example of wrong planning happens when we plan without God. Many in this world make many plans in their life, but they do not include God in their plans. James wrote about those who made plans, to go here and there to conduct their business and make money for one whole year (James 4:13). However, these people did not include God in their year plan. James reminds them that life is short; today we may live, tomorrow we may die, then what would become of yours plans? (James 4:14).
3. Wise Planning
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5)
It is good and wise for Christians to plan ahead, and to plan diligently. Diligent plans will help us to be fruitful and abundant in the year ahead. As the apostle Paul wrote, Christians ought to be “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16). Christians are not people who procrastinate and waste time idling around. Instead, Christians are people who plan ahead so that we can make the best use of our time.
Most importantly, wise planning is planning that involves God. All planning will be fruitless and futile if God is not in our plans (Proverbs 19:21). Instead, we ought to “commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3 ESV). We ought to say: “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15). We ought to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). When we put God first in our plans, we can look forward to a truly fruitful and blessed future ahead! Wishing everyone a happy and blessed year ahead!