Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6
Let us dig into this beloved passage with a promise and see what God has for us.
These verses comprise a conditional promise from God. With conditional promises, there is often an “I do this” then “God will do that” type structure. With verse 5, there is not just a to do list. There is also a NOT to do list. The to do portion is to trust in the Lord with all our hearts. The NOT to do list says “don’t lean on your own understanding.”
The first thing that jumps out as we compare the to do and not to do items is the fact that the very nature of the list says that there will come times when my own understanding WILL indeed clash with what God says. It is written as a foregone conclusion. You can count on the clash. Sometimes it is easy to believe that this conflict of ideologies only happens to people who don’t know God. The mistaken belief is that when I make God my Lord and He gives me His grace and mercy that He also is now obligated to agree with me about how I see things and about what I think I need. We are reminded that His thoughts are “not our thoughts…” The verse then says to us, the conflict between my way and His IS coming, and when it does… “Trust in the Lord…and lean not” toward my own way.
There is something to be said about the quality of the trust. This word does not give the picture of gingerly, and fearfully placing my trust in the Lord after weighing all other options. The original word means to carelessly place my full weight on God, without a thought of doing anything else. Have you noticed in your own life that this is not so easy to do? Ever wonder why?
The fact is, when we tell the truth about ourselves, there are rooms within our heart that are naturally prone to trust in things other than God. He may get the majority vote of our heart but sometimes His margin of victory is slim. This is a promise for those who unanimously, in all places within their heart are willing to trust. God must be Lord of all or He is not Lord at all!
What about the “not to do” portion? So glad you asked. The word understanding is more than just your personal perspectives. It constitutes that which you have developed skill in. Don’t lean on what you have come to see yourself as proficient in. This is the stuff that I have learned over time. The way in which I know how to do and the way in which I know works. Here is a special pitfall that I need to be careful of. You see what I have learned and honed into a proficient skill set is what I am expecting God to use to show His way. Listen carefully, the fact that God has allowed me to learn and become skilled at something does not obligate him to use that skill set to work with, for and through me! He is Sovereign and He uses what He chooses!
The promise comes in verse 6: “and He shall direct your path.” The word path is what we get the English word oracle from. It means in essence the way of your life. When I lay all my trust in the Lord, He in turn will make the way of my life straight and pleasing in His sight. That which looks like twists and turns are made straight and plain. It is the way that is worth the trust!