Proverbs 3: 5-6. “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.” Have you ever hiked on a designated and marked trail? Let’s call that kind of path “straight”. That’s quite a different experience than blazing your own trail. When I was in Vietnam we hiked, but the trail was anything but “straight”. There was jungle, there were booby traps, there were mines, and the last thing you wanted to do was walk in a straight line. The person who had the unenviable job of walking in front and testing the safety of the path was called the point man.
In your life you are the point man, or woman. As in Vietnam, there is jungle, there are booby traps and mines–though most of those are emotional and interpersonal rather than literal–so how do you know which path to walk safely? In Vietnam, walking the right path safely required courage above all else, and intense concentration, and experience, and there was no template for it. In life there are many paths you might take and courage, concentration and experience, while important, are not nearly as significant as wisdom.
What is wisdom? It is applying truth to decisions. What is truth? Let’s go back to “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.” How do we trust in the Lord? How do we acknowledge him in all our ways? First, notice that there is a counterpoint to trusting in the Lord, and that is “leaning on your own understanding.” What happens when a dog is leashed to a tree? Very soon, the leash is wound around the tree. When humans do this to themselves–the “tree” being their habits which create their circumstances–their preferred answer is a longer leash! If you made the dog’s leash longer, what would happen? You dog owners know that the dog would become even more entangled. There must be a better way. (Thanks to a Tony Evans sermon for this example).
Why am I using the example of a dog? There is another Proverb I love, Proverbs 26:11. “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Just so you don’t get confused by the real significance, that one is followed by 26:12, “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” We can be “wise in our own eyes” even while being steeped in the Bible. Here’s an example (don’t try this at home, as they say, unless you really, really like to laugh at yourself): J.E. resolutions
Far be it from me to impugn Jonathon Edwards, but…….there’s this thing called “the law”–in the Biblical sense that Paul was using it (“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—”) Keeping resolutions by your own will is the law, from which we in Christ have been set free. It is “being wise in your own eyes.” Wisdom is looking to Christ to be our resolution-keeper.
Instead of trying to apply Biblical principles to every aspect of your life–which you will fail at–steep yourself in the knowledge that Christ will do it for you. The hardest part is getting out of your own way, stop celebrating your own efforts (could actually be the “dog’s vomit”), rest secure in Christ’s perfecting you as you go along, He will unwind your chain from around your habits and circumstances.