Do Your Plans Harmonize With God’s Purpose?
THE bird known as Clark’s nutcracker is a gray-white songbird that can be seen flitting through the forests of western North America. It collects and buries as many as 33,000 seeds annually, storing them in some 2,500 different locations in preparation for the frigid winter months. Indeed, this bird is “instinctively wise” in the way it makes provision for the future.—Proverbs 30:24.
Humans possess an even more remarkable ability. Of all Jehovah’s earthly creations, humans have an unsurpassed capacity to learn from past experiences and to allow these lessons to influence their plans for the future. “Many are the plans in the heart of a man,” observed wise King Solomon.—Proverbs 19:21.
Even so, humans generally have little choice but to base their plans on assumptions about the future. For example, you plan tomorrow’s activities assuming that the sun will rise and that you will still be alive. The first assumption is well-founded; the second is less certain. Realistically, the Bible writer James said: “You do not know what your life will be tomorrow.”—James 4:13, 14.
Jehovah God does not have such limitations. He knows “from the beginning the finale.” His stated purpose will be fulfilled, come what may. “My own counsel will stand,” he declares, “and everything that is my delight I shall do.” (Isaiah 46:10) What happens, though, when mankind’s plans conflict with God’s purpose?
When Human Plans Disregard God’s Purpose
Some 4,000 years ago, the builders of the Tower of Babel planned to restrict the spread of the human race. “Come on!” they said. “Let us build ourselves a city and also a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a celebrated name for ourselves, for fear we may be scattered over all the surface of the earth.”—Genesis 11:4.
However, God’s purpose for the earth was quite different. He had commanded Noah and his sons: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1) How did God deal with the goals of the rebellious people of Babel? He confused their language so that they could not communicate with one another. The result? “Accordingly Jehovah scattered them from there over all the surface of the earth.” (Genesis 11:5-8) Babel’s builders were forced to learn a valuable lesson. When human plans and God’s purpose differ, “the counsel of Jehovah is what will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21) Do you allow such lessons from the past to influence your life?
A Rich Man’s Folly
You may not plan to build a tower, but many today plan to build a large bank account and to accumulate material possessions so that they can be comfortable in retirement. It is only natural for a person to want to enjoy the fruits of his labor. “Every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work,” wrote Solomon. “It is the gift of God.”—Ecclesiastes 3:13.
Jehovah holds us accountable for the way we use this gift. Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus emphasized this point to his disciples by means of an illustration. He said: “The land of a certain rich man produced well. Consequently he began reasoning within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, now that I have nowhere to gather my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my storehouses and build bigger ones, and there I will gather all my grain and all my good things; and I will say to my soul: “Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.”’” (Luke 12:16-19) The rich man’s goal sounds reasonable, does it not? Like the bird mentioned earlier, Clark’s nutcracker, the man in the illustration seemed to be preparing for his future needs.
The man’s thinking, though, was flawed. Jesus continued: “But God said to him, ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. Who, then, is to have the things you stored up?’” (Luke 12:20) Was Jesus contradicting Solomon’s statement that work and the good things it produces are gifts from God? No. What was Jesus’ point? “So it goes,” said Jesus, “with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”—Luke 12:21.
Jesus was teaching his audience that Jehovah wants us to take Him into account as we make our plans. The rich man could have been rich toward God by seeking ways to grow in godly devotion, wisdom, and love. That man’s words reveal no interest in such things, nor in leaving some of his crops for the poor to glean, nor in presenting gift offerings to Jehovah. Such spiritual pursuits and unselfish actions were not part of the rich man’s life. His plans revolved purely around his own desires and comforts.
Have you observed that many people today have priorities in life like those of the rich man Jesus described? Whether we are well-off or poor, it is all too easy to fall into a materialistic frame of mind, allowing the needs and desires of daily life to push aside spiritual needs. What can you do to avoid that trap?
Planning a “Normal” Life
Unlike the rich man of Jesus’ illustration, you may be struggling financially. Nevertheless, if you are married, you no doubt plan to provide the necessities of life for your family and, if possible, a good basic education for your children. If you are single, your plans likely include finding a job or keeping the job you have, so that you are not a burden to others. These are worthwhile goals.—2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; 1 Timothy 5:8.
Even so, it is possible that working, eating, drinking—living what is considered to be a normal life—could bring a person into conflict with God’s will. How so? Jesus said: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matthew 24:37-39.
Prior to the Flood, people in general enjoyed what they might have considered a normal life. Their problem, however, was that they “took no note” of God’s purpose to wipe out that wicked world by means of a global deluge. They no doubt thought that Noah’s lifestyle was abnormal. Yet, when the Flood came, it was the lifestyle of Noah and his family that proved to be truly wise.
Today, all available evidence proves that we are living in the time of the end. (Matthew 24:3-12; 2 Timothy 3:1-5) Soon, God’s Kingdom will “crush and put an end” to the current system of things. (Daniel 2:44) Under that Kingdom, the earth will be transformed into a paradise. The Kingdom will remove sickness and death. (Isaiah 33:24; Revelation 21:3-5) All earth’s creatures will live in harmony and be free from hunger.—Psalm 72:16; Isaiah 11:6-9.
Before he acts, though, Jehovah purposes that the good news of his Kingdom “be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) In harmony with God’s purpose, some seven million Witnesses of Jehovah are preaching this good news in 236 lands and in over four hundred languages.
To the world, the lifestyle of Jehovah’s Witnesses may seem strange in some ways—even ridiculous. (2 Peter 3:3, 4) Like those living before the Flood, most people today are preoccupied with the routine of daily life. They may view as unbalanced anyone who refuses to live a lifestyle that society considers to be normal. But from the perspective of those who have faith in God’s promises, a life centered on serving God is truly balanced.
Therefore, whether you are rich or poor or somewhere in-between, it is wise from time to time to review your plans for the near future. As you do, ask yourself, ‘Do my plans harmonize with God’s purpose?’
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When mankind’s plans and God’s purpose collide, the counsel of Jehovah is what will stand
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When making his plans, the rich man in Jesus’ parable failed to focus on God’s purpose