What do these words have in common: devise, scheme, conspire, plot? Obviously, they all denote something negative. In English, that is…

This is the case most of the time this Word occurs in the Hebrew Bible as well. For example, Proverbs 6:14 talks about the individual “who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil.” The same is true in Proverbs 3:29; 6:18 and Micah 2:1. But there is a notable exception and that is found in Proverbs 14:22.

This verse put a totally different spin on the meaning of “scheming” and allowed me to finally put my conspiratorial skills to good use. Yes, I was known for being creative and bold when it came to scheming as I was growing up, but all my efforts were naturally geared to the Proverbs 3, not the Proverbs 14 type of scheming.

But before we go too far, let’s us look at the verse. The NIV says, “Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” The NIV is so nice and it tries to be always English-sensitive. Not the NASB, though, they are more Hebrew and Greek sensitive most of the time. That’s why I like the NASB translation here, “Will not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth [will be] to those who devise good.” Did you catch that? The NASB is correct here, even if the English is peculiar: the word for “devise evil” and “devise good” are one and the same in the Hebrew.

So if you ever thought you needed permission to actually sit down and “conspire to do good,” this is it right here. I am sure you know that there are people in this world whose sole activity is plan to do bad stuff. They breathe and weave havoc, whether innocent little computer virus that can wipe out your hard drive or devastating terrorist attacks using planes as lethal weapons. Some people sit around in dark rooms and are paid or think they will be rewarded to think about ways to do evil 24-7. They are the Rasputins on steroids.

The Word is telling just the opposite here: start a quiet revolt, convoke your friends, gather your family, clear the table, sip coffee, and think long and hard of ways you can do good. Yes: conspire to do good!

My mother was and is a master at that. She was a chief good conspirator who kept her ears open at all times and whenever she discovered a real need someone had, she would go behind their backs and meet that need, and then just sit quietly in a corner to watch how the person would react, all the while with that look on her face that said, “No idea how that happened.”

My conviction is that the reason the text reads the way it does is that doing good is not natural after the fall, it is not intuitive, it is not something we can’t wait to check off on our to-do list. As much as wish this were not true, doing good requires some thinking, some volitional effort, some real conspiracy. That is why I love Dorcas, in Acts 9, because the text says there that she was “always doing good.” What a wonderful thing to say about someone who just passed away, as in the case of Dorcas, but I hope you won’t have to wait until you die to give reasons for people to say that about you.

So in 2013 make “plotting to do good” a top resolution. You can do that by setting aside some money in your budget, a line item called “conspiracy money” (I love that way that sounds!). You can conspire by giving people the gift of your time. Surprise them with the graces of your presence. If you do that, Proverbs says here that God’s faithfulness and kindness will meet you at the end of your conspiracy.

This Sunday you will hear me talk about Church the way it should be. One of the things I will mention is the idea of “outdoing one another in giving honor.” Wouldn’t it be great if we had a healthy “competition” in Church to be the first to acknowledge someone when we see them doing good? Or what about writing an anonymous letter, not to criticize, not to hide behind an unsigned missive to say stuff you wouldn’t say in the person’s face, but to praise the person, to validate her/his impact in the church, to elevate her/his service to God, to thank her/him for a generous heart.

That would be a great start to our New Year.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade