Monday, May 18, 2020
SO WHAT: REFLECT ON THE TEXT
How do I know the way that the Lord is directing me?1. Consider the scriptures
The Bible gives us clear guidelines on correct living as opposed to improper living (3:1; cf. Proverbs 6:20-23, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 2 Timothy 3:14-15). Only the Bible does not tell us exactly where to go to school, who to marry, what job to take, where to live, and so on.
2. Consider our feelings
The Holy Spirit can whisper to our hearts (cf. Nehemiah 2:12, 7:5). In the Old Testament, the heart constitutes the seat of our intellect, emotions, and will. We must, therefore, guard our hearts (cf. Proverbs 4:23).
To guard our hearts, we need to acknowledge God in all our ways (3:5). We are to place our trust in Him. Yet, how often do I say the right things about trusting God, only to make a decision based simply on what I wanted in the moment? (cf. Proverbs 16:2)
One implication of Proverbs 3:3-4 is that the feelings we follow will not be self-serving but other-centered.
3. Consider common sense
Verse 5 emphasizes our central dependence upon the Lord, but it does not negate using the mind that God gave us. The root of the verb “lean” means to support yourself on something by placing your entire weight on it. The key, then, is not to use our logic as the primary support of our life (as our crutch, per say).
4. Consider our circumstances
If the Lord opens a door for us, nothing or no one can shut it. Conversely, if the Lord closes a door, nothing or no one can open it (cf. Proverbs 16:9). We might need to ask, “What door is the Lord opening and what door is the Lord closing in my life?”
But just as we have to guard our hearts, we might also need help interpreting our circumstances lest we read into them whatever we want. This is where wise counsel enters the picture.
5. Consider the counsel of others
We should not hesitate to turn to wise loved-ones who know us and who know something about the situation before us (cf. Proverbs 12:15). They will not only know our strengths and weaknesses, but they can also help us weigh the pros and cons of a matter and ensure that we do not rush to a judgment.
6. Cry out to the Lord in prayer
John Kitchen explains that the fool will say, “Just let me think! I can figure this out if you’ll only give me time!” God says, “Do not be wise in your own estimation” (3:7).
Warren Wiersbe advises, “At the start of each day, ask God to guide you in every decision you must make, big or small.” A student I once taught in high school suggested that we begin our day with the words, “Dear God,” and that we end it by saying, “Amen.”
Reaching wise decisions involves prayer by which, according to verse 6, God will make our paths straight. The phrasing “make our path straight” also appears in Isaiah 40:3 and 45:13. It bears with it the connotation that God will remove every obstacle in our way to give us peace of mind in knowing that we have reached our proper destination (or decision).
The familiar 23rd Psalm reveals to us that we need leading. What better leading for us than the fulfillment of the Good Shepherd referenced in that Psalm. His name is Jesus (cf. John chapter 10).
Jesus is the One who leads us unto all righteousness. He is the One who at great cost to Himself ventures out into the wilderness to lay our sins upon His shoulders. He is the One who cried out to the Father, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” Then, according to Luke 15:3-7, Jesus rejoices to bring us home.
Who better for us to follow in every facet of our lives than the leading of this Savior, like a Shepherd?
WHAT: RESPOND TO THE TEXT
- Spend time regularly in Scripture to receive guidance in the principles for proper living.
- Be open to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit (be it a vision, a dream, an intuition, etc), but guard your heart.
- Apply logic when reaching important decisions: Weigh your circumstances and speak with wise loved-ones.
- Pray. pray. pray. And let that prayer mimic that of Jesus. “Not My will, Father, but Your will be done.”