Of all the verses Christians like to stand on, this is a big one. And it IS a great verse, filled with hope and encouragement. However, it’s also one that people often take out of context.
Think of the word of God like a big buffet. Ideally, you’d go down the line selecting a little bit of it all. But if you’re like me, you end up with a lot of meat, some bread, and a dinner plate of dessert. Not very healthy, I’ll admit. But why would I fill up on vegetables when there’s much more appealing foods to choose from?
Unfortunately, we tend to do that with the Word of God as well. We quote verses like God’s plans are for me to prosper without taking the verses in full context. Jeremiah 29 says:
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
This promise of God, His plans for you are when you diligently seek Him. He rewards His faithful children.
It is true that it is His wish that none of us perish. He wants to see everyone thrive and prosper and have eternal life. But you cannot be an heir of God unless you accept Jesus. Unless you seek Him with all of your heart.
This reminds me a little of my son in elementary school. He loved school, he loved his teachers, and he loved playing with his friends. He just hated doing schoolwork. If they gave grades for PE and Recess only, he’d have been a Straight-A student.
But they don’t. So every 6 weeks, post-assembly, he’d be upset as his sisters carried home ribbons and restaurant coupons for Honor Roll awards as he remained empty-handed.
“You can’t get the prize without doing the work,” we’d tell him. As a mom, my heart would break for him. As a teacher, though, I was a little indignant. I had my own students that wanted the same rewards as those who’d done their homework and class assignments, as well as studied for tests. This wasn’t about not being a good test-taker or having difficulty, this was about effort.
We have a society full of people with that same childlike mentality today. They want the benefits of Christ without any effort. They want God’s rewards for their life as they execute their own plans.
Sometimes I shudder to think what I’ll see when I see His Master Blueprint for my life. I’ve made peace with the years I strayed from Him but even now, as my entire life is devoted to ministry, I wonder how many times I miss the mark. How often do I end up seeking my own plans and not His? I am comforted by the fact that He would rather I do SOMETHING than nothing (Revelation 3:16) but I’d much rather know that I’m following His Blueprint for my life and not my own.
He does have big plans for you, for all of us. The question is, are you putting forth the effort to receive the rewards?