For this week's proverb, we're starting with Proverbs 28:26,
He who trusts in his own mind is a fool;
but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
What, exactly, is walking in wisdom? And why would its opposite be trusting in one's own mind?
Another passage in Proverbs might help us here.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Scripture tells us repeatedly to trust in the Lord. God's got it covered. (Remember last week's proverb?) When we trust our own minds, we're not exactly trusting God, are we? Our minds are prone to error; our knowledge is imperfect and limited, yet we draw conclusions and make judgments and act as if we know it all.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Trusting our own mind means we're arrogant, not fearfully humble before God, and leads to evil. This evil can lead to horrible suffering: think of PTL and the fleecing of the poor, think of Westboro Baptist's actions at military funerals, think of the Boston marathon bombers.
Our arrogance in thinking we are right leads us to act in ways that are very, very wrong.
And when we use God as an excuse for that wrong, our sin multiplies.
We are, however, born into the world and live in the world. We cannot avoid drawing conclusions, making judgments, and acting decisively in big and small matters every single day. We have to trust at least some of our judgments...or we become paralyzed with indecision and fear.
I have a friend who became paralyzed while trying to decide which car to buy. It's a big decision, and she was struck with doubt that she deserved the safe, reliable, used car she could easily afford. She thought it was too nice for her. She prayed but didn't feel that God was giving her a solid answer.
Let's face it. God doesn't speak to us each morning out of our blow dryers (a modern burning bush!), telling us which car to buy or where to eat lunch or whether to buy organic apples.
How, then, do we balance the necessity of living in the world with the call to walk in wisdom with God?
At least part of the answer, I think, lies in humility and love. God created the universe and all matter in it. What a miracle! How small we are, how limited! We see darkly, for a brief time. He sees clearly for all time.
Yet He loves us, each and every one of us, and wants us to love Him and each other and ourselves. He has given us free will, a will to choose our path, a will to choose evil or good.
God trusts us to think about what the right thing might be, to come to Him prayerfully with our problems, to listen to Him, to study His Word for guidance, to live in Christian community with others to help guide us, and to act always in love and humility.
This, for me, is walking in wisdom, and I fall short of it every single day.
This Week's Reflections
How do you walk in wisdom? Did I leave something out of my list? Have you ever felt that you trusted too much in your own understanding and hurt someone as a result? Has your own error ever made your path crooked? If it's still not straight, what could you do to walk in wisdom again and trust Him to straighten that path for you?