Psalm 137, 144; 2 Samuel 23:1-7,13-17; Acts 25:13-27; Mark 13:1-13
Don’t spend a lot of time preparing your defense in advance.
We can waste a lot of time getting ready for things that don’t come to pass. It’s worth it if those plans that didn’t get used were to help others flourish, to keep them safe, to minimize the world’s wounds. I’m big on planning, when it’s to benefit others. But when my plans are about making me look good, justifying my choices, that’s a different thing entirely. I have taken the time that God gave me as a gift so that I could follow the great commandments (time to love God, and time to love my neighbor) and instead of focusing it on God and neighbor have focused it entirely on me myself and I. Yes, the world can be a rough place, and yes, planning for retirement or medical crisis is wise–because in large measure such plans are actually about loving my neighbor, making certain that I don’t suck up resources that should really be used to help those who can’t help themselves rather than being squandered on me because I chose not to help myself. I have all kinds of insurance, all kinds of investments, and a pile of legal paperwork all in order. So not saying don’t plan: what Jesus is saying, I believe, is that we shouldn’t spend a lot of time planning our own press releases to justify our choices and make ourselves look good. If we do things well and wisely and prayerfully, a few people who dislike us will continue to dislike us and malign our character, and most people will look at our choices and come to the conclusion that these were things done well, wisely and prayerfully. Your deeds, not your words, are your sales pitch.