Devise a plan that is good and beneficial
Proverbs 14:22 states, “Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.” What does it mean to devise? The word means to plan or invent (a complex procedure, system, or mechanism) by careful thought. As humans, we are definitely able to devise evil or good. We begin to plot out or plan when we devise, and we put a lot of thought into what we are about to do. It seems that devising evil comes natural to us all and happens with ease unfortunately, but why are we not planning good more often?
We are used to moving through life speedily, and if an opportunity to do good arises, we may quickly jump onboard. We like an opportunity to do good to present itself and we can join the effort, but God is asking us to be more methodical and create ways and opportunities to do good. There is a major difference. Jesus had planned to go into Samaria to do good. He said, I must needs go through Samaria.” He had given this much thought and he had a plan because of a need there. He just did not show up in Samaria by chance, but it was by God’s divine providence. I would like to challenge all of us to begin to think about ways that we can do good in the days ahead. Light shines best in darkness. We have been given an opportunity at a time when evil and darkness abound to be a light of goodness.
I want to share a story from 2 Kings 4:8-17 about a lady who devised a plan to do good, “And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither. And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there. And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him. And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people. And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old. And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door. And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid. And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life.”
The Bible calls the Shunammite woman “great.” Why was she called great? She sought out ways to help others. She devised a plan to assist the man of God in his travels and ministry. She had noticed a need and planned to meet that need. She realized that Elisha traveled by their home continually, and she and her husband had already fed him numerous times. They would have been justified in by just feeding him, but they wanted to do more. Do you want to do more or are you satisfied with what you are already doing? God wants to do more, but we must be willing! There is no better time than the present!
The couple decided to make a bedroom in their home for the man of God to sleep, rest, and study. They chose furnishings that met all his needs.They gave him a table to study and eat. They gave him a stool to sit upon, and a candlestick to light the room in the evenings so he could see. They created a perfect space for this man of God. They put thought and effort into what they were doing. Elisha noticed what the woman had created for him and he said that she had been careful to provide all this care. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” The Lord does take notice of all that we do for others and he will repay. We cannot out give or out plan God. Elisha was going to grant the request for this lady. That was not the reason she had initially created the room. She did it out of love, concern, and compassion. She told Elisha that she has no child and her husband is old. He told her in nine months that she would embrace a son. Please take the time to read the rest of the story this weekend. It will surely be a blessing and help to you.
How do we start to devise something good? We must look for a problematic area or need. Stop looking at our own needs and start looking for the needs of others. Know your own talents and abilities and seek others to help in areas that may seem out of realm of knowledge. Make a meaningful difference by determining your intention and motives. Why am I doing this and what am I expecting to gain from it? Our only motive should be love and compassion for others. We should not be doing anything to look impressive or because we want anything in return.
Your best self is when you let go of the self — you are selfless. According to Psychology Today, selflessness takes sacrifice. There may be a cost for being kind, but self-sacrifice is what changes the world. It is an attitude. It an assertion of value and goals to make the world and the people around you better. It’s assisting others when they most need it. It’s fulfilling in and of itself because you are not looking for a reward. The reward is knowing that how you treat people will leave a smile on their faces and make a difference. But sometimes, you do not get to see the benefits of what you start.
I would like to close with a short story I came across online during my studies. Sara Marsi from Providence Rhode Island says, “A few years ago, I was circling the block to find a parking space so I could get a cup of coffee. A woman walking by flagged me down and said she would go in and get me the coffee if I gave her my order. While she was inside, a spot opened up and I was waiting by my car when she exited. I thanked her when she came out and went to hand her money. She said the coffee was on her. She went on to explain that she had metastatic cancer and with the time she had left, she wanted to do as many good deeds as possible. I shared with her that I was a cancer survivor and the two of us ― complete strangers ― shared a hug and some tears. She asked me to pay it forward as often as possible, and ever since that day I make sure to do random acts of kindness for others as often as I can.”
This lady was observant and she realized this woman could not find a parking space. She quickly devised a plan. Her goal since she was dying of cancer was to do as many good things as possible. We must start to realize that we are all terminal, and we begin dying from the moment we take our first breath. We need to make each day count and devise something good. We must realize that some of the simplest plans make the biggest impacts on someone’s life. Never underestimate the power to plan and create good!
(The Solution Column is provided Brandon Young, Pastor of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton.)