Text: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6).
Thought: This is the time of year for graduations, commencement exercises and new beginnings. Often there are questions concerning the next steps in life and future plans. These wise and instructive words (above) from the Book of Proverbs direct us to trust the Lord every step of the way. But these well-known verses from Proverbs are not just for people starting a new chapter in life; they are counsel for all of us who want to walk with the Lord and experience His leading in our lives.
The outline below is very similar to one my father used to share when he would present truths from this classic text. Being that this chapter in Proverbs begins with the words "My son, do not forget my teaching…" (Prov. 3:1), I think it is fitting to pass on a slightly different version of the instruction my father shared with me and many others. Notice what the wise and faith-full life involves.
Definite Decision to Trust ("Trust in the
Lord…and do not lean…")
We are called to a type or level of trust that is not casual. We do not drift into an "all your heart" trust. This kind of trust involves a definite decision that we make initially and continually. It is such a strong personal commitment that it calls for a rejection of even a natural reliance on our own way of thinking (not aided by God Himself). We trust the Lord because of who He has revealed Himself to be (trustworthy), and because He has revealed His will and ways to us in His Word.
This is not some blind trust against all human wisdom, it is a trust in the God who is the source of wisdom and knowledge. As Christians today we have the new covenant revelation that has come to us in Jesus Christ as well as all the blessings that are ours in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. As new covenant Christians we are still called to the life of faith, and this faith requires a definite decision on our part daily. The wise person will choose to trust the Lord completely and continuously.
Dynamic Devotion Expressing Trust ("…in
all your ways acknowledge him…")
Flowing out of the decision to trust the Lord completely should be a daily devotion to the Lord. This devotion is not a few minutes of Bible reading and prayer, good as these disciplines are. The writer of this proverb is speaking of an acknowledgment of God in every aspect and arena of life. That is why we speak of this devotion as being "dynamic," it is a pulsating devotion throughout our activities and relationships. The life of faith sees God in all aspects of life and serves God in every activity of life. The "all your heart" trust leads to an "in all your ways" acknowledgement of God. All of life becomes worship and service to the God who is worthy of our heartfelt trust.
Divine Direction for Trust ("…and he will
make straight your paths")
There is a certainty about these words. It is not a certainty about wealth, ease, or worldly success in life. The certainty is about God's involvement and direction in the life of the faithful child of God who lives according to the directives shared in the earlier part of our text. The one who chooses to trust the Lord completely and acknowledge Him continually will know God's specific involvement in his life, and this involvement will be that of enabling progress and direction in the life of righteousness.
The Lord will "make straight" the way, meaning that the child of God will be able to walk rightly and in the right direction. This is not just a promise to be guided in a job or career, although these are important aspects of our daily lives, the direction of the Lord has a moral dimension to it. God will make sure that we walk in the right path, and will guide and protect us as we go. What an expectation for the child of God who wants to do God's will in the future!
Thrust: "Trust in the Lord!"
David L. Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee.
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