I should be going on holiday today. In fact, under normal circumstances I would by now be sitting in a restaurant in Funchal, Madeira, as I do every year, looking out across the Atlantic. Not this year though. Instead I’m stuck in a local lockdown with a two week firebreak due on Friday.

That’s life isn’t it? We often make plans and something happens to stop them. It could be a short or long term financial problem, illness, bereavement, someone else’s plans interfering with ours. The worst I’ve experienced with a holiday was on my 60th birthday, standing in a queue, 10 minutes from boarding a plane to Barcelona, and its cancellation was announced. A planned French air traffic controllers strike had ruined my plans.

People make plans regarding their future and some of us have the details worked out well in advance. Often those plans are incredibly selfish. The Bible speaks of one such man, a wealthy farmer, who one year had a bumper crop, so much that his barns weren’t big enough to accommodate it. What did he do about it? He said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” (1) Such a selfish response, and it turned out to be a pointless one. That very night he died and didn’t get any benefit at all from his bumper crop.

God has a message for us all in this, about the way we use what we have, our wealth, our talents, our skills. God doesn’t want us to be greedy and keep it for ourselves. We have nothing that God did not first give us, and he wants us to use what we have selflessly, not selfishly. Provide ongoing help and support for members of our community who need it. Don’t ignore their needs while contentedly enjoying ourselves. That was the attitude of the rich farmer. He never for a moment thought to share his crop with the poor.

It is good to make plans and it’s something God himself has done. With his perfect knowledge of the future he was aware of the destructive impact of sin, and he came up with an amazing plan to deal with it once and for all. You couldn’t accuse God of being selfish, rather his plan of salvation involved the most selfless act this world has ever seen. The plan involved God himself suffering in our place. Jesus, the Son of God, agreed with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit on a plan that would take him from heaven to earth, where he would die on a cross paying the penalty for our sins. Effectively, he took the punishment for our sins upon himself so that we don’t have to suffer it. Has there ever been a plan like it? A plan where God considered our needs as being greater than his own, where he was prepared to undergo intense suffering and death so that we don’t have to.

The death of Jesus on the cross offers forgiveness of sins, an eternal life, and freedom from God’s judgement. It’s there waiting for you, but you have to want it, and you have to take it. It’s like a gift. I can hold it out for you, but it’s not yours until you take hold of it. You have to do something. The Bible says, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2) You can have it, but you have to take it by acknowledging that Jesus died for you, accepting him as your Saviour, and committing to live for him. It’s very simple, but you’re acceptance or rejection of God’s gift has eternal consequences.

 

Bible References:

  • Luke 12:18,19
  • Romans 6:23