Ever tried to put something big together without first reading the directions? Doesn’t work out well, does it?
The same goes with our lives.
As I read this passage a while back, it really hit home with me. Over the three years earlier, I’d done all I could to try to fix my life. I looked for ways to help my family get back on track economically. However, nothing really worked out, leading to depression.
It wasn’t until God used a friend to show me that I needed to get back to Jesus that things started to improve. These nine verses reinforced this lesson to me.
16 The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
– Proverbs 16:1-9 (ESV)
In this passage, the author talks about two ways of living and how God responds to each: our way and his way. One leads to ultimate judgment, the other to ultimate blessing.
My Way or the Highway
The author begins by talking about doing things our own way. The plans we make and the goals we set often look great in our own eyes. Sometimes we may even see our endeavors as somehow holy or righteous.
Let me emphasize that again: in our own eyes.
During those three years I trusted in my own abilities, my own knowledge, my own ideas, my own education (I do have a PhD, you know, but that’s not really led to much). Some of the paths I took had short-term benefits, but nothing long-term.
I tried this path, that path, the other paths, yet nothing really helped overall. Everything I did seemed to fall apart.
As the author said, I even saw my actions and good and altruistic: I was doing it for the family.
In truth, though, I was doing things my way for myself. God was relegated to the back seat.
This selfish approach to life ultimately leads to destruction. Oh, we may see some worldly gain–some may see excessive gain in this world–but as the author of Ecclesiastes said, “it’s all vanity.” That is, it’s all meaningless.
In the end–that is, in eternity–God will judge those who live for themselves, no matter how we justify it.
Instead, we need to take a different approach to life.
His Way is the Right Way
As I read this passage, it was verse 3 that stood out to me: “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”
Commit what I do to God.
Commit to him.
That was where I failed. I’d committed things to myself and maybe even my family, but I hadn’t committed my endeavors to God.
When we do things to serve God, he will bless it. So, what does that mean, “commit to God”? In simple terms, it means do what you do for his glory and purposes; do what you do as an act of love for God.
Sometimes we may have a great idea (or it may be quite wild, who knows). If we act on that idea for ourselves, that’s a problem. However, when we commit that idea to God, then he’ll lead us and bless us.
Maybe that idea will lead to something bigger, or something wilder. Maybe it’ll touch the lives of others. Maybe it’ll become something long-term itself, or perhaps it’s just a short-term endeavor.. Who knows. Regardless, when we commit it to God, he will bless it.
Bringing it Home
With all this in mind, now is a good time to look at your life and the choices you’ve made. Are you doing things for yourself or for God? Did you commit your actions and plans to God or to something (or someone) else? Whose power, abilities, and ideas are you trusting?
As I said, for three years I leaned on myself for myself. I even justified it as holy because it was for my family. However, God showed me that I was, in fact, living for myself under my own power. I needed to change.
What about your life? Re-read that passage again and let God teach you what you need to learn.