schemers | John 11.47-48
So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” John 11:47-48 | ESV
An emergency session of the high council was gathered – the priestly and religious hierarchy – and they began their panicked deliberations: “What are we going to do? This man keeps performing so many impressive signs! If we do nothing and just leave him to it, everyone will buy into his act, then comes revolt, then come the Romans, then comes ruin – we’ll lose everything, our people, our place, our nation – everything!” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
It’s what we all do.
If we do this, then this will happen, which will lead to this and this and this and then that. And then, with all our postulations and calculations, we set out our grand strategies for achievement or containment, fancying ourselves as chess masters in the game of life.
We can immediately bristle at the accusation. It’s just good business, we insist. We need to look ahead, to figure things out, to lay careful plans. Even Jesus commends such calculating plans, doesn’t he?
“Who builds a tower without first counting the cost?” Right?
Oh to observe the line between prudent planning and calculating scheming.
Perhaps it all comes down to what we are doing with our hands as we plan – that open or closed hand thing. And while we still might be shrugging our shoulders saying “What’s the big deal? So we’re planning and calculating? Is that a sin or something?” James doesn’t let us off so easy. What we would praise as good old-fashioned drive, initiative, and common sense, James calls “arrogance” “boasting” and “sin”:
And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil. James 4:13-15
And there is the line between prudent planning and calculating scheming: “If the Master wills it” versus “full of your grandiose selves” and “vaunting self-importance.”
Oh for the grace to plan well as needed but to live even better, at all times, and trust Him with all outcomes, rather than trying to arrange them ourselves.
Are you a careful planner or a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” kind of person? Why? To what extent would you say you are able to trust God with all outcomes? How can you grow in this area?
Abba, teach me that balance between planning and trusting you with all outcomes. Keep me from harmful calculations tabulated by my grandiose, self-important ego. Keep me wide open to your purposes, your plans. Through Jesus.