There is something to be said for preparation. Planning a project of any kind—gospel or otherwise—requires a bit of foresight. It takes imagination and ingenuity to detail the steps involved. Thinking through the actions needed to achieve the desired result. “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house,” we are told in Proverbs 24:27 (ESV). Take the time needed, just be ready before you start. Preparation is a major part of success—if not the most vital part.
When I think about God interacts with people in the Bible it shows that he knows how to prepare. All through the Old Testament we see Him preparing for the arrival of Christ. And then “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6 (ESV)”. At just the right time. In the fullness of time. There was a plan in place all throughout history and as it ran it’s course and Christ came to the Cross we were redeemed. Praise God we were redeemed.
Preparation is key. Our verse above in Proverbs 24 tells us to prepare. And right after it comes Proverbs 24:30-34 “I passed by the field of a sluggard,” it says. A lazy man who does not prepare his vineyard. He does not make ready for what lies ahead. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” we are told. Do not prepare and your ‘want’ will be upon you like an armed man. Snap your fingers and thing you know you should be doing will need to be done—right now. Don’t prepare and the need for that preparation might be fatal.
Luke 14:27-28 says virtually the same thing. “27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Are we not fools if we take the easy way out? If we sit and take our rest and don’t prepare for what we need to do we are like the sluggard. We are like this foolish man in Luke who began to build but was not able to finish “all who see it begin to mock him,” it tells us in v.29. But its much worse than just people making fun of you. Check v. 27 again, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Bearing the cross willingly and even enthusiastically prepares us for what lies ahead. Not bearing the cross, we are told, means that a person ‘cannot be [His] disciple.’
“14 Remind them of these things,” Paul tells Timothy. And don’t quarrel. “15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” — 2 Timothy 2:14-15 (ESV) Be diligent in study so that you can be prepared when the days comes. Don’t waste time fighting.
So what does all this have to do with the last few verses of Mark 9? It’s coming…believe me.
Mark 9:49-50 (ESV) 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
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