Proverbs 3:5-6

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."



Proverbs 3:5-6 should never be separated.  They belong together like peas and carrots.  Like a man and a woman in marriage, they give each other purpose.  On their own, they offer sound advice.  However, when combined, these two verses form one harmonious voice that heralds some of the greatest counsel Scripture has to offer.

These paired verses offer two approaches to life: lean on ourselves OR lean on God.  We can lean on ourselves OR we can lean on God but we cannot do both.  If we lean on our intellect and abilities, then we have no need to acknowledge God.  This is the definition of self-sufficiency.  If we have no need to acknowledge God, then we will obviously have no need to trust God.  On the flip side, if we don’t trust ourselves, then we will have a sincere need for God.  If we have a need for God, then we will acknowledge Him which will then move Him to direct our paths. It is that Divine direction that presents the opportunity to trust God with all our heart.  This is the definition of God-sufficiency

These verses form a circular bond that repeats itself in progression. 
If you trust God with all your heart, you won’t lean on your own understanding.
If you don’t lean on your own understanding, you will acknowledge God.
If you acknowledge God, He will direct your paths.
If God directs your paths, you can trust that direction with all your heart.
If you then trust God with all your heart, you won’t lean on your own understanding.
If you don’t lean on your own understanding, you will acknowledge God.
If you acknowledge God, He will direct your paths.
If God directs your paths, you can trust that direction with all of your heart. 
And round and round it goes.

Self-sufficiency and God-sufficiency cannot cohabit.

Solomon addresses slothfulness and irresponsibility in the Book of Proverbs but before He would address those vices, he first addresses self-sufficiency.  He does this so early in his book because he has already spent so much time emphasizing the need to get wisdom, knowledge and understanding from God.  As a person gets these invaluable gifts from God, he or she learns to be responsible and spiritually successful.  Someone blessed with the mental, emotional and spiritual skills necessary to succeed in life can easily become self-sufficient in their own mind.  It is easy to lean on a strong work ethic.  It is easy to lean on a sound mind.  It is easy to lean on natural gifts and intellect.  It is even easy to lean on the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that God gives us.  People don’t lean on their weaknesses, they lean on their strengths – even God-given strengths.  Whenever we lean on our abilities, even God-given abilities, we are guilty of self-sufficiency.  When this takes place, we don’t acknowledge God and He doesn’t direct our paths.  When this takes place, we direct our paths and ultimately trust in ourselves. 

To avoid the mistake of becoming self-sufficient, Solomon instructs us all to acknowledge God in ALL our ways.  Self-sufficiency is defeated by taking knowledge of God in ALL our ways – hard ways AND easy ways, weaknesses AND strengths, vices AND virtues, failures AND accomplishments.  The key to avoiding self-sufficiency is not so much about trusting in God as much as it is in acknowledging God in ALL our ways.  There are plenty of Christians who trust in God but not with ALL their heart because they trust themselves with some of their heart.  There are plenty of Christians who trust God with their weaknesses but trust in themselves with their strengths.  This is still self-sufficiency.  We can only trust in the Lord with ALL our heart when we acknowledge God in ALL our ways.  We can only lean on God fully when we fully acknowledge Him.  We need God in our weaknesses AND in our strengths.  We need God in our failures AND in our successes.  We need God in our vices AND in our virtues. 

The key to this pair of verses and the key to combating self-sufficiency is acknowledging God in ALL our ways, not just in the ways where we struggle.  Acknowledging God in only some of our ways will not lead to spiritual success.  He must be in ALL our thoughts and He must be taken knowledge of in ALL our ways.  This is essentially the flaw of the wicked person according to Psalm 10.  This psalm describes an evil soul and it starts off by describing his self-sufficiency in verse 3 - “For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire.”  Verse 4 unveils the root problem with this person - “the wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in ALL his thoughts.  It’s not that the evil person doesn’t have God in ANY of his thoughts nor does it mean that he doesn’t acknowledge God in ANY way.  The text makes it clear that he does acknowledge God in verse 11 - “He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.”  For the wicked person, God is an afterthought.  You don’t have to be an atheist to be a spiritual failure.  Self-sufficiency is sufficient to produce spiritual failure. 

Self-sufficiency strips a believer of God’s direction, leaving him to the insufficiencies of his own understanding.  Responsible souls, beware lest your virtue makes God seem unnecessary.  Successful souls, beware lest your success sidelines God.  Acknowledge God in your success and in your virtue.  Think about how much you need God to continue to give you the ability and the sense to succeed.  Take knowledge of God and how dependent you are on good health, on a sound mind and on Divine protection.  No one is successful without God and no one stays successful without God. No one is good without God and no one stays good without God.  If God has given you understanding, acknowledge the Source of that understanding in ALL thy ways.  There isn’t an area in life that we can afford to rely wholly and entirely on ourselves.  There isn’t a moment in time, a place in the world or a human activity where God isn’t needed. 

Paul said in one verse what Solomon said in two when he said, “Wherefore let him that THINKETH he standeth take heed lest he fall” 1 Corinthians 10:12.  Becoming self-sufficient is the slow, deceptive and dangerous way of removing God from your life.  How can a person truly prosper without the direction of an Almighty God?

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