One way God demonstrates His grace is in having a plan and purpose for our lives that He wants to reveal to us. It’s a pathway He’s designed specifically for each one of us, yet sometimes we fail to consider this. We move through life without giving God a second thought. Instead of wondering whether our lives have counted for anything, we can choose to believe that the Lord has the best plan for us, discover His path, and get on it as soon as possible. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us what’s required to follow the Lord. Let’s examine this passage:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (v. 5).
God commands us to trust Him. Trust is a strong belief in someone’s integrity, ability, and character. This is the kind of confidence we are to have in the Lord. Then whatever He says or requires of us, we will know with certainty that it is right. If we lack trust, we won’t follow Him and will find ourselves living outside the will of God. On the other hand, if we’ve spent a lifetime trusting and obeying Him, we can testify that He has never let us down.
The basis for trust in God is His sovereignty. He is the divine Ruler over all things and all people at all times. His wisdom, power, and righteousness are all wrapped up in His sovereignty. The Lord’s purpose is always right and good even if it doesn’t look that way from our perspective. We can’t always understand why He allows illness, trouble, or heartache, but we can know that He is a loving and trustworthy God. If we don’t believe this, we’ll question His will when situations don’t match our expectations. That’s why we’re told not to lean on our own understanding. When we don’t comprehend what’s happening, we can trust in God because He never changes. Knowing that He’s always gracious, merciful, and kind allows us to rest in His sovereign will for our lives. He knows us intimately and has chosen exactly the right path.
The degree to which we are to trust God is with all our hearts. Instead of relying on our own knowledge, perception, or reasoning, we should put our total trust in the Lord. This requires more than just agreeing with Him. We can actually agree with God about many teachings in the Bible without actually trusting Him. Agreement means we believe something is right, but genuine faith responds to that belief with action—we do what God says because we trust Him to guide us the right way. Wholehearted trust also means we can’t pick and choose areas we entrust to Him while trying to keep other parts of our lives under our control. It’s foolish to rely on our own perception because it is so limited, but God’s understanding is complete and eternal. Even when we don’t comprehend or like what’s happening, we can still rely on His loving wisdom and respond in trust.
“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (v. 6).
To acknowledge someone is to recognize him. But when we acknowledge God, we are not merely admitting that He exists, but confirming that He is our Lord who has authority over us and the right to give us direction in every area of our lives. In each choice or situation, we acknowledge Him by surrendering to His will and trusting Him fully.
“He will make your paths straight.” When we follow the Lord’s guidance, He protects us from side roads and eliminates obstacles and confusion along the way. In basic terms, the straight path is the one of obedience. We may stumble along the way or need redirection, but God repeatedly brings us back when we have a heart to obey Him. His path isn’t always easy, but it’s always the best. When we think we can do a better job of plotting our own course for happiness and prosperity, it may look good for a while, but eventually we’ll suffer the wear and tear that comes from taking unprotected detours.
In what area of your life do you have the most difficulty trusting God? Why do you think it’s so hard to trust Him sometimes? Continue to learn about and rely on the promises found in God’s Word, for there is no better place to put your faith.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “The Faith to Follow” which aired this weekend on TV.