Thinking Ahead for the Glory of God
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)
During college I had a professor who lived for some years in northern Norway. The winters are so cold there that they require preparation the spring before, as soon as the ground thaws. “If you didn’t start stockpiling firewood in May,” he explained matter-of-factly, “you would freeze to death the following winter.”
God commands us to develop foresight: what are the most important priorities in the day, week, and year ahead? What do I need to take responsibility for? Sometimes, like the ant, we may not have a “chief, officer, or ruler” telling us what the most critical goals should be. And so, living wisely requires careful planning about what we really need to achieve, and then the determination – like dutiful ants or conscientious Norwegians – to accomplish those goals.
One helpful model for building foresight is to make SMART goals. That’s an acronym for goals that are:
Specific – What exactly do I want to achieve? Measurable – How will I know if I have done it? Achievable – Is this realistic? Relevant – Does it serve my overall mission? Timely – When does it need to be completed?
For example, if you want to build wealth, you might set a goal of saving 5% more income per month (specific and relevant), by keeping track with your banking app (measurable), enabled by cutting down on entertainment expenses and picking up one extra shift per month (achievable), and phasing in this shift from entertainment to savings over a five-month period (timely).
Of course, material prosperity is only one goal in this life, and the wise person pursues it only insofar as it leads to the greater goal of spiritual prosperity. When Jesus came, he set the biblical theme of pursuing success within the larger mission of pursuing God. In Luke 12 he warned that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” and then told this story:
The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.
So today, think ahead for the glory of God. Work hard to be successful in your business and your other commitments; set goals, plan ahead, and become prosperous. But gain wealth so that you can give it away, and keep your eyes fixed on the One who loves you more than anyone, and who wants you to be truly wise and truly prosperous.
Father, thank you for the responsibilities you have given me and the people that I can serve through my work. Give me foresight and help me to be successful. Use every part of my life to bless others, and fill my heart with love for You afresh today. In Christ’s Name, Amen.