“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
This verse is not calling us to be irrational, or to look down on acquiring understanding. The book of Proverbs actually speaks very highly of understanding. Our faith does not contradict our ability to reason, and we are not called to be unintelligent. We are to grow in wisdom, grow in understanding. So what does it mean not to trust our own understanding?
Do not lean on your own understanding means, do not lean on conclusions not based on God’s Word. Do not build your life simply on your own perceptions of reality, but be shaped by the realities of the Bible. Do not create your own truth, and lean on it. Be shaped by the truth, and trust it.
This verse is very foundational for many people, and it should be. It will save your life if taken seriously, and obeyed. When the unavoidable sufferings of this life come, this verse is a weapon for you to fight with. I think this verse is a glimpse into the beauty of true life, and true happiness as a Christian. Even in the midst of sorrows.
Here are three simple, yet profound ways, to persevere in any circumstance. You find them in these verses:
1. Trust the Lord:
My wife and I, ever since the tragedy in our life, have turned to an old hymn as a sort of anthem. It says, ‘Trusting Jesus, whatever befalls, trusting Jesus, that is all.’ And that’s the idea here. The writer of the Proverb, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, understood that the reader would face tumultuous waters. That it would not be smooth sailing always in the Christian life. He also understood that the most powerful thing you could do when self-created understanding tried to take hold, was to turn our eyes off of you, and turn them upon Jesus. That He is trustworthy, even when we don’t understand.
2. Understand your understanding
When he says, ‘lean not on your own understanding.’ He wants you to understand that you are fallen, your perception is blinded at times by selfishness, self-reliance, and self-determination. That we tend to look at the world around us as a mirror, thinking it is all about us. When we should look at it as a window, understanding it’s all about Him. Your understanding isn’t sufficient. It will not do you good, unless it is rooted in the Bible. Look to Christ, through the word, and find the source of true understanding.
3. Acknowledge God in all your ways
No matter how small the situation, no matter how seemingly insignificant the conversation, always acknowledge Him. Acknowledge that He is present, in control, and that you need Him. Every decision your making, acknowledge Him. Every crisis you run into, acknowledge Him. Every joyous season, acknowledge Him. Acknowledge Him internally, and externally. In other words be in conversation with Him internally at all times, and also be in conversation about Him with those you are surrounded by. Then we get to experience this beautiful promise:
“And He will make straight your paths”