In my last post I wrote about how we must learn to walk by the Spirit if we are going to truly live under the government of God. While it may sound impractical or even a little other-worldly, it is a skill we must develop. In this post I want to provide you with the key to walking by the Spirit through a very familiar passage of Scripture.
I think just about everyone familiar with this passage from Proverbs.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5 – 6
These familiar verses hold the key to walking by the Spirit on a day-by-day basis. Let’s break it down like this:
TRUST in the Lord with all your heart…
Trust is the active placing of our confidence in an object. This confidence is born out of a knowledge of the object and its integrity. Trust is a posture of the heart.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart…
The Lord Himself is to be the focus of our confidence. This is YAHWEH, the eternally self-existent One. We can posture our heart to trust in Him because He is Who He is without variation throughout all ages.
Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart…
This posture of trust is to completely encompass every part of our being; no facet of it is to be left out.
Trust in the Lord with all YOUR heart…
This brings the directive straight to the reader. The reader is being given a directive that is their responsibility to pursue, and that is not to be neglected.
Trust in the Lord with all your HEART…
The heart is the organ in man that affected by this directive. This speaks to the very centre of man’s being that motivates him and makes him what he is. Every thought, feeling, imagination, and inclination of the heart is to be focused in a posture of absolute confidence in the Lord.
AND do not lean on your own understanding.
This joins the following statement with the previous one. The previous directive is not complete without what is about to follow.
And DO NOT lean on your own understanding.
The first directive to put our complete trust in the Lord was positive. This next part is negative. We are being told about something we absolutely must not do.
And do not LEAN on your own understanding.
When a person leans on something, they do so because they are confident it will support them. We were previously told to put our whole confidence in the Lord (i.e. lean on Him). Now we are being told that there is some we should not put our confidence in.
And do not lean on YOUR OWN understanding.
This brings us to the point that we are not to put our confidence in something we possess on our own.
And do not lean on your own UNDERSTANDING.
This is what we are not to place our confidence in. Our understanding speaks of our comprehension of life with all its little intricacies. It grows out of the vast assimilation of information and experiences we have encountered and processed during the course of our lives. No matter how vast our personal comprehension of life might be, it apparently is not an adequate guide.
Why would that be? The answer is simple. Truth can only be known when it is perceived from God’s perspective. If we fail to bring Him into the equation when we process the information and events we encounter on the road of life, our conclusions will be inevitably wrong no matter how wise they may sound.
Even if we have made it a habit in the past to include the Lord in our processing of life, yesterdays understanding will still likely not be adequate to properly comprehend today’s events. The situation and the people involved, although similar in many ways, will be different enough to require a fresh word from the Lord in order to really be perceived in the light of truth.
IN ALL YOUR WAYS acknowledge Him…
This is a directive that encompasses all the varied courses, discourses, and interactions encountered in day-to-day life.
In all your ways ACKNOWLEDGE HIM…
The root of this word in Hebrew is “to know.” It means to know; to become acquainted with; to know by experience; to see or perceive. It could probably be translated get to know the Lord in all your ways.
There is only one way to do this. We must bring all our various situations and circumstances to the Lord and find out what He thinks about them. What has He said about it in His Word? How do we apply that to this situation? How does He see our circumstances? What is His heart in the matter? Are there any specific steps He would like us to take as we engage this situation? Acknowledging Him in this manner is the way we demonstrate our trust in Him.
AND HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT.
This is the result of trusting the Lord and acknowledging Him in all our ways as opposed to leaning on our own understanding. Life is full of twists and turns. We pretty much encounter them on a daily basis. But when we trust in the Lord and bring all our ways before Him, He will make clear the road we are to take. We can then walk forward with confidence, knowing that the favour of the Lord goes with us as we take the way He indicates.
I absolutely love the way Eugene Peterson renders Proverbs 3:5 – 6 in The Message.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
I think that sums it up nicely. That’s why I have it written in the front of my journal. Walking by the Spirit is not an option. It is a skill we absolutely must acquire, because walking by the Spirit equals living in the Reign.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.