Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs
..[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 3″]
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.
19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.
21 My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence
and do not choose any of his ways,
32 for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord,
but the upright are in his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful,
but to the humble he gives favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor,
but fools get disgrace
(Proverbs 3:1-35 ESV)
Trust Him With All Your Heart
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
It is an easy error to take a passage like this one, and turn it into something it is not. All one need do, is take the first word “trust” and make it bear the entire weight of the thought.
But that is to miss the point entirely.
In other words, our author’s exhortation is NOT to merely be a trusting person, to be a “person of faith” or to have some sort of generic trust that everything will work out OK. What we are being called to here is to trust in God Himself. To trust His character, His promises.
We cannot trust our own perceptions of circumstances and their imagined meanings. But we can and MUST trust God’s revelation of Himself in His word, and in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This takes us off of the futile task of trying always attach specific meaning to very little event in life – and to instead find the meaning of everything in the Author of Life Himself. Trust Him Believer. Trust the God who cannot lie. Trust the God who cannot sin. Trust His promises. Trust His descriptions of reality in the Word. Trust His Gospel. Trust Him above everybody and everything else.
Then again – do not forget the underlying presupposition here: You cannot trust anyone you do not know – not really. So – do you know Him? Do you know Him in the person of Jesus Christ? Do you know Him as your Lord and Savior? As your sin-bearer? When you do – then you can trust Him fully.
If you do really know Him, then you know you can bring everything to Him, EVERYTHING. He can be trusted with it. Do not fail to make every concern, ever twinge of anxiety or fear known. Do the same with every joy and thanksgiving. And with every sin and failing. You delights, desires and pains and woes. Nothing puts Him off. Nothing scares Him. Nothing is beyond His power. Because He loves you He is FOR you in every struggle. Never try to appear before Him the way you think He wants you to be – come naked, wounded, discouraged, fearful, fretful, sinful and undone. Bring Him into every aspect and moment of life. Every experience. Live life IN Christ.
Matthew 12:20–21 “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
Are you broken and bruised? He will not break you. He will tenderly nurse you back to strength. Is your spiritual flame reduced to little more than a smoldering wick? He won’t extinguish you – He’ll cause His Spirit to gently blow until you burn as a bright flame once more. Come to Him.
Trust in HIM with all your heart
– even when you can’t sort out the pieces.
He will see to it you do not fall off the path to His glory.
Proverbs 3:11–12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
We must not make the assumption that “discipline” & “reproof” are executed angrily by God. This is a human attachment which is by no means necessary. Training and reproof can often – and perhaps MOST often ought to be done gently and lovingly. Picture a father with his steadying hand on the bicycle while his sweet daughter attempts to ride for the first time without training wheels. It is a stereotype of fallen man that posits these roles to mirror Marine drill-sergeants. It need not be the case at all. In fact, God’s reproofs are never mean, arbitrary, disproportionate nor punitive. They are ALWAYS borne of love and affection.
This need to refrain either from despising (treating lightly) or wearying of the Lord’s discipline is true whether you are the subject of such loving discipline, or if you are in leadership and must be an agent in carrying it out, or, if you are part of a Body which engages actively in such outward love. And what applies to leadership in the Church here, equally well applies to parenting in our homes.
At least three applications must be made.
a. The sinner (and sometimes the Christian too) treats the Father’s discipline as though it is a light thing.
Either that God does not discipline at all and just leaves us to ourselves, or, that He does not take unrepentant sin in our lives very seriously. It is easy then too – if we DO live in the reality of His loving discipline, to grow weary of it, as though we can do NOTHING right and want to just get away from every manifestation of it. Such then is the need to be reminded this is love, and the product of His delight in us. To pay us the supreme compliment, that the Lord of the universe pays attention to the details of our lives.
b. Leadership can treat discipline lightly and thus neglect it.
Or, being confronted with many needs to administer it in certain seasons, can grow exceedingly weary in the process. But we are to be agents of God’s love – NOT His wrath. We must keep this focus and not let it cross over into something heavy and odious. We too must remember how the Father is delighting in sons and daughters, and that we are there to manifest His love, care and concern in His active involvement in their lives.
c. So too a congregation can begin to wonder if Church discipline is really all that necessary.
After all, it is painful and uncomfortable. We naturally dislike it. As a people we can grow weary and just say – “let’s let God handle it alone – why get ourselves all upset at people’s sins and involved in them?” Then again, we must take up the banner of love and be sure we do not neglect to love in the hard places. To do what is uncomfortable, when it is best for the ones we are loving in Christ’s name.
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Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.