A few years back John Piper recorded a series of video devotionals for the YouVersion Bible app. One of those devotions that came out of the recording was on Proverbs 3, verses five and six. What Pastor John delivered is what we are calling: Three Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life. Here’s what he said.
Lean on the Lord
Proverbs 3:5–6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
“God doesn’t want us to veer off the path into disobedience or into a wasted life or into anything that would dishonor him.”
That verse probably is the one that my mother quoted most often in writing me when I was in college and graduate school. Without even writing it out, she would include Proverbs 3:5–6. And I think it is because the main aim of the verse is to walk in a straight path.
That means, she didn’t want me — and I don’t want you and God doesn’t want us — to veer off the path into disobedience or into a wasted life or into anything that would dishonor him. That is the goal. He will make your paths straight: straight to obedience, straight to everlasting joy, straight to a God-honoring life. And he says there are three steps to get there, right?
1. Trust God
First, trust in the Lord with all your heart.
So, bank on the promises of God step by step in your life. Make your life a moment by moment in trusting in a good, holy, kind, loving, all-providing, all-satisfying God.
2. Renounce Self-Reliance
Then, step two, he says, “Don’t rely on your own understanding,” which I think means a conscious choice not to be self-reliant.
“If you trust God, renounce self-reliance, and bring him into every life situation, he is going to make your paths straight.”
Just say to yourself: Self, you are inadequate. Brain, you can’t come up with enough wisdom on your own. You have to turn away from self-reliance. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t think and you don’t plan. It just means that you don’t bank on it.
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31). So, even in the midst of our planning and thinking and using our minds, we are leaning on something else. We are not leaning on our own resources.
3. Acknowledge God
Then the third one is: In all your ways acknowledge him — the Hebrew says, in all your ways know him.
So, at every turn, every new choice you have to make, every new conversation you are in, you are sending up a message: God, I acknowledge you here. I know you here. I am drawing you in here. You are decisive here. I need you here.
If we follow those: trust him, renounce self-reliance, bring him into every situation, he is going to make our paths straight. He is going to keep us from wasting our lives or destroying ourselves and others in the path of sin and bringing us to everlasting joy.