Theme of the Week: Wisdom for the Ages
Bible Verse: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5–6 NKJV
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 18:15, Daniel 1:17, Romans 12:1-2
You may have come across this “direction” joke about a guy who quipped, “my wife kept saying I have no sense of direction…so I packed my things and right.” … give it a minute 🙂
Guys sometimes get a bad rap for a lack of direction, especially when they want to trust their sense of intuition over GPS or Google Maps – not that any of us have ever done that, right? (If you’re unsure, now would be a good time to ask your wife.)
The third phrase of this passage pivots to a comparison of the inverse posture of complete trust: “. . .and lean not on your own understanding . . .” The opposite of trusting in the Lord is leaning on our own understanding—relying on ourselves.
Was the writer telling his readers to abandon reason and intellect and to move with blind faith? Absolutely not.
Scripture gives many examples of the importance of learning, knowledge, and education:
- The author of Proverbs later adds this: “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out” (Proverbs 18:15).
- Early in the book of Daniel, we learn it was understanding leveraged by four Hebrew young men, which gave them incredible influence while in captivity. “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning” Daniel 1:17.
- The Apostle Paul echoes the theme of the importance of our minds: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:2.
Proverbs is not instructing us to ignore intelligence or common sense, but it is cautioning us away from self-sufficiency and an over-reliance on ourselves.
Wiersbe explains: ”The danger, of course, is that we lean on our own understanding and thereby miss God’s will. This warning doesn’t suggest that God’s children turn off their brains and ignore their intelligence and common sense. It simply cautions us not to depend on our own wisdom and experience or the wisdom and experience of others.”1
There is a real temptation to become “self-made men.” But this passage invites us to find understanding and wisdom in the Lord. We can be both life-long learners and life-long trusters.
Prayer: Father, as I face decisions, questions, and life’s challenges today, deliver me from the temptation of leaning on myself. Help me daily to lean on your everlasting arms. Amen.
Reflection: What is your default ‘go-to’ when you face difficult decisions or challenging circumstances? Your knowledge, strength, experience, or understanding? Are you a DIY guy or a DIIH (do it in Him) guy? Have you found a healthy balance between learning and trusting?
1 Wiersbe, Warren W., Be Skillful (Proverbs): God’s Guidebook to Wise Living (The BE Series Commentary), Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996, 38.
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