Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Straight Paths: Thoughts on 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.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The Scripture verse above is one that is quite familiar to our ears and frequently repeated from memory by many. It only takes a few moments of walking the aisles of retail stores to see it decoratively reprinted onto coffee mugs and greeting cards. Most of us enjoy the way these particular words easily roll off our tongues to offer wise-sounding advice. Many people often gravitate towards positive-sounding verses like these in Proverbs as a quick self-esteem boost, while others may use them as an explanation for undesirable circumstances in their life. Once we cast aside our flawed glasses of self and put on the lens of the good news of Christ, we can then see that these two verses are much more than a simple formula for worldly success, but actually a heavenly calling for eternal life. 

Very early on in the book of Proverbs, the writer tells us plainly that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). He lets us know that true wisdom can only be found by wholeheartedly seeking after God. This point of truth is then carried and interwoven throughout the entire book. While many have been mistaken to take Proverbs as a book of promises, it is important for the reader to embrace it as actual counsel that is fully personified in Jesus Christ alone. He himself is the wisdom that the entire book charges us to seek and find. 

The passage of Proverbs 3:5-6 continues to echo the teaching of achieving wisdom through Christ. The writer is urging a type of wisdom that goes entirely beyond a head-knowledge to one that only comes from complete surrender of the heart to the Lord. These verses call for the reader to deny the easier path of self-dependence and fully turn to the holy sovereignty of Another. Throughout all Scripture, we see through Jesus an approach to life that is completely opposite of the self-preservation plan that our culture daily preaches. We see Him denying himself and looking to his Father in all things. As these two specific verses urge, Jesus trusted His Father with all his heart, never leaning on his own understanding, but only on the words of God. He acknowledged Him with each step of every path, even the road that led straight to the cross. Even though his path was marked with denial and suffering, it was made a straight one through the glory of the Father.

Because of the work that God completed through Jesus, we can have full confidence in the end goal of these verses above: he will make straight your paths. By the shed blood of Jesus, all things that we face in life have been purchased for our victory. His resurrection power is ours for both the acknowledging and the taking in all our ways. 

The path that we travel may not lead straight to prosperity, wealth, or optimal health; but when we lay down our lives and heed the commands in Proverbs 3:5-6, God most assuredly will cause our paths to lead straight to the highest destination possible: Himself.

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