VALLEY REFORMED CHURCH
Savoring God through literacy in His literal Word
Should We Prepare for Uncertain Events of the Future?
his is not going to be a paper to try and convince you that you need to prepare in a certain way or at a certain time for devastating and uncertain events likely to happen in the future. As far as I can tell, there is no verse or passage of Scripture in the whole of Scripture that tells us we need to prepare for a food shortage, fuel shortage, economic devastation, etc. Of course, and in all fairness, there are no verses that tell us not to prepare for such an event.
I have had conversations with people in both camps, those who believe we should not prepare, but simply rely on God to provide for us and those who believe we should prepare and continue to trust God.
I think both camps will agree that in most of life, we are in the process of preparing for uncertain events. We all definitely agree that our main goal in life is to prepare for the certain event of eternity with Christ. Our preparation for that event is limited for us as humans, because God has provided our salvation, has secured it by Christ’s death and resurrection, and has sealed us with His Holy Spirit. Preparation for us is limited to running the race by denying ourselves daily and taking up our cross and following Him.
In other areas, we do things to prepare even though we may not recognize them as preparation. We buy life insurance which is preparation to enable our spouse or family to be taken care of when we die. We buy funeral insurance which guarantees that our family will not have to come up with the money to pay for our funeral. We buy health insurance almost betting that we will become sick and won’t have the money to pay for health care. We buy mortgage insurance on our homes, in case we get too sick to work or in case we die. We invest in the stock market and fund savings accounts in preparation for retirement or for the day when we are out of work. We buy winter coats when they are on sale in the spring, in preparation for the next cold winter. We buy extended warranty plans on new appliances in preparation for a breakdown outside of the warranty.
These are all examples of preparation for uncertain events and most of us engage in most, if not all, of these examples. There are many other examples, some of which are required by law and some not.
I think you would agree that in most cases, the fact that you have prepared in one of these areas is not an indication that you don’t trust in God. It is not an indication that you are not spiritual. It is not an indication that you aren’t passionate for God. Nor is it an indication that you are a negative person and that you don’t trust that God is going to work things out. You may be a negative person, but the fact that you have prepared in these areas is not what makes you a negative person.
There are definitely examples in Scripture and in the lives of those we know, where their preparation springs from their lack of trust in God. Luke 12:18 tells of the rich man who built more and larger barns to prepare for the future. God called him a fool, because he failed to prepare for his spiritual future.
I once attended a prayer meeting and Bible study at the home of one of the elders of the Church we were newly attending. Immediately after the study, I wanted to get to know the elders, but could not, because the two elders at the meeting were discussing the stock market and what they needed to do to increase their yield. Although it was unintentional, it was a heart revelation of what was most important to them; their stocks.
The majority of preparation, at least the good kind, is to lessen the burden of our welfare or that of our estate on those with whom we live and love. Scripture does address this issue. II Thessalonians 3:10 tells us that if a man does not work, he should not eat. It also tells us that believers are not to be idle and if they are, we should warn them and have nothing to do with them if they fail to repent. Work is preparation. Work is what we do to ensure that we will have food for tomorrow and to ensure that we will be able to pay for a place to live. Verse 12 of the same chapter tells us that we are to earn our own living and not be dependent on other people.
Another scriptural example of preparation is found in I Timothy 5:10 where the criteria is established for a widow who qualifies for support from the local body. In order to receive support from the Church, the widow must prepare in advance, by meeting this criteria. In her married years, the thought of meeting the criteria may have never been on her mind, but if she met the criteria, she did it by preparing. The qualifications for elders and deacons are both examples of preparation for a specific task.
The question of whether or not to prepare has now changed in light of the fact that we all are actively engaged in preparing. The question now becomes; what should I prepare for? There are a couple of things we know we should prepare for as mentioned above, like working to make a living, but what about the other things like insurance? The Mennonites do not believe in purchasing insurance, because they believe they should take care of each other and in fact, they do. Most of us purchase insurance because we aren’t convinced that God will take care of our health, because we don’t, or because we don’t want to be a burden on our brothers and sisters at Church, or because we know they won’t help us if we need help. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that we choose what we think is important to prepare for and what isn’t.
Some believe that devastating events of the future are too uncertain to prepare for. They believe that Jesus instruction to the disciples in Mark 6:8 applies to us as well. In reality, those who make this application do not in truth believe it, otherwise they would have only one jacket, no food for the next day and certainly no savings or bank accounts.
In Matthew 24:20, Jesus gives preparation instruction for the coming time of tribulation. He instructs them to pray that their flight will not be in winter. In fact, the whole passage is about the tribulation of the coming bad times ahead and is all about being prepared. The whole of the New Testament is really about being prepared; for hard times, for false teachers, for the subtle working of Satan, for our eternal home.
When the disciples were attacked in one town, they ran to another. This is in essence preparation for staying alive. Of course we know that it was part of God’s plan in spreading the good news, but it is an example that the disciples didn’t just sit down on the sidewalk and allow themselves to be beaten to death. As much as was within their realm of control, they took steps to prepare.
What should a Christian be prepared for? Well, there are many possibilities. We are supposed to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We have been given the Spirit of discernment. We are to watch for the evil one as he prowls about seeking to devour. We are to be aware of our surroundings and as Jesus told His disciples, be alert, because that day will not overtake you as a thief. Neither you nor I can predict the future with any amount of accuracy, but we are told in Scripture to prepare for hard times, days of persecution and suffering. Will these days come in my lifetime? I don’t know, but I can be prepared.
How can I prepare? I better be prepared spiritually! If I am not in the Word and in prayer and if I am not walking humbly before God, then no other amount of other preparedness matters! But, in my spiritual preparation, I need to make sure that I don’t violate Biblical principles in the other areas. Paul said in II Corinthians 8:13, 14:
“I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, 'Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.'”
Maybe you should prepare by storing extra food, clothing, medicine or warm blankets just so you can help a brother or sister who isn’t prepared. Maybe you should prepare so you can feed one whom God is drawing to Himself, one whose eyes and heart He has opened. No Scripture verse is going to tell you how you should prepare or even if you should. Prayerfully bring this matter before the Lord and let His Spirit tell you how to prepare.
You may not be able to prepare as well or in as many areas as another brother or sister, but don’t neglect preparation in order to pursue your dream of life here on earth. Life here on earth is not going to matter. Your home is yet to come. Everything we do here is in preparation for eternity, God’s glory and Christ’s exaltation. If you are presently spending your money to build your empire, don’t even worry about preparing, because you aren’t going with the chosen. You will arrive with the five foolish virgins who failed to buy oil for their lamps and were refused entry to the wedding. If you refuse to prepare, thinking that a brother who has prepared will take care of you, you have already agreed to violate Scripture and you have agreed in advance to burden another brother or sister unjustly.
Jesus sums up the preparedness issue with this story:
Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV) “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Should we prepare? Of course! How should we prepare? With prayerful reliance on the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit. Be prepared.
By Bob Martin | Sept 23, 2011 |