I’m sure you’ve heard this sentence in recent years—“Sounds like a plan.” Chances are, you may have implemented this expression yourself. I know I have. However, when I do, I feel a bit uncomfortable about it. Loosely translated, this phrase usually means, “Yeah, let’s do that; but let’s not talk about it right now.” The upshot of such conversations is that they usually produce zilch. What sounded like a plan was not a plan at all. It was, in effect, a way to avoid the whole thing altogether.
I’m pretty sure that’s not our intent—at least much of the time. Still, we say this knowing that the eventual result will probably be no result at all. Why do we do this?
There’s an old saying that goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I don’t know if this fits our situation exactly, but it comes close. We toss these little phrases around so glibly, we rarely give them any further consideration. Consequently, all our “big plans” amount to nothing.
I’ll Pray About That
Christians are adept at these conversation closers. The biggie, of course, is, “I’ll pray about that.” Translation: “No, and don’t ask me again—at least for a long time.” I try not to use that one. It’s been tossed at me way too many times for me to be serious about employing it as a tactic of my own. Still, it sounds really spiritual and seems way more polite than giving an abrupt, “No!” It’s almost as though it’s considered un-Christ-like to say no.
The fact of the matter is, however, that Jesus was quite clear about our need to give a simple, “No” from time to time. He not only spoke about it, he did it. Once, he healed a bunch of people then left town to rest and pray. When the folks found him, they urged him to come back to town. They attempted to entice him with the argument that there were others who needed his touch. His answer was, “No.”
Check out the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:37, he says, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Wow! Does that make you feel a bit uneasy?
From the Pit of Hell
If we take that literally, phrases like, “Sounds like a plan,” arise from the pit of Hell. Hmm… I don’t know if he meant it quite like that, but that sure sounds like it. I assume he was telling us to be a bit more straightforward in the least. The context of this directive was a discussion of oathtaking, so we’d have to look at it a tad more closely to determine how this might apply to skirting the issue with quips like, “Let me pray about it.” Still, our “yes” should mean “yes,” and our “no” should mean “no.”
I hate writing about this subject because I abhor telling people, “No.” So, to your latest idea, I say, “Sounds like a plan.”
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]