Pastor Edward Brouwer 8-19-18 Proverbs 3:1-8 Wisdom’s Way: Our Hearts
Wisdom’s Way: Our Hearts
You’ve heard it a 1000 times: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Some of you may have even memorized that verse. We need to be reminded of the wisdom of these words because we are so inclined to rely on our own ways of thinking and doing. Today we will listen to the Wisdom of Solomon through the lens of three aspects of our hearts. How God hasdesigned our hearts to trust him, the danger of following our own heart, and the true direction of our hearts as we trust in him.
Read Proverbs 3:1-8
Design, danger and direction.
We are designed to trust our Creator. He created our hearts to want him. The great 4th century theologian Augustine, in his book Confessions writes on the first page “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You”. The fact that He made us for Himself goes back to the Garden of Eden. God designed us to be in relationship with him. Not because God was lonely or needed us for He is sufficient in and unto himself. In the beautiful communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit there is no lack. God simply wanted to expand his joy and include us as humans in that joy. Just like the love between a husband and wife is complete in and of itself without children, it is natural for us to expand the community of love beyond ourselves to co-create, to multiply and receive children into that every expanding love.
When the Scripture’s speak of the heart, they are not just talking about the organ in your chest that pumps blood like we do. They are talking about the center of your personhood that is your will, the part of who you are deep down that determines your emotions. So Solomon could say “a cheerful heart doeth good like a medicine” Proverbs 17:22. Heart is more than head knowledge. In the gospel of Matthew 11:29 Jesus invites us to come to him because he has a lowly and humble heart and then promises that we will find rest for our weary souls. Jesus also said that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul mind and strength. When you speak about someone you love, you’re talking about your heart. It’s beyond intellect, and beyond your preferences (I like pizza!). So when Solomon writes “trust in the Lord with all your heart” he is saying love God with 100% of the inner core of who you are. That is true wisdom because when we are completely in love with God and we completely trust Him with our lives then and only then will we really find the path of joy.
So we understand that God has designed our hearts to trust him, but then comes this word of counsel: Don’t lean on your own understanding. It’s like Solomon is putting out a Danger sign! Be careful.
My second point then is that there is inherent danger when we are talking about matters of the heart. Why Danger? Because, in fact, we tend to follow our own hearts. It’s what you do: like a Geico commercial. Why are we inclined to trust our own understanding and intellect? Are you inclined to self-pity? Are youfearful? Maybe there was a significant event in your life where you trusted God and it didn’t turn out the way you wanted or expected. So now you’re more inclined to trust yourself. Or maybe you doubt that God is really foryou, or wonder whether he really loves you—so it’s hard to trust him and so logically you go your own way. Maybe you are having trouble in your marriage. The witness of Christ in your life tells you that you must die to your self and your demands and expectations. But then your spouse takes advantage of you and you feel hurt and discouraged and angry. You trusted God’s way and look where it brought you! Next time “I’m looking out for number one” you say! But be careful because worldly wisdom says “look after number 1!” but that is not the way to a happy life. The world is full of people who sacrificed their marriages and families on the altar of self-indulgence or success. Jesus said “what does it profit you if you gain everything but in so doing you lose your own soul?” This summer so many people have lost their lives at waterfalls because they were looking for a rush. Even if signs are posted saying “Danger: stay away from falls” they do it anyway. The Scriptures are posting the same kind of sign about our hearts: The heart is deceitfully wicked. Who can know it? And the danger usually isn’t as catastrophic as physical death because often our hearts trick us into an unreal perception of what true success really is. Let me explain by saying that we as Christians often have two default settings when it comes to our hearts with God and what we think is “being good with God”.
Our tendency is to live according to law or license. We knuckle down on something in our own strength, believing that is what God requires (and we’ll do it without joy often) or we don’t even bother yielding to the Spirit because we have become so used to our worldly way of thinking.
Take the challenge: ask the Spirit for wisdom. Make this an opportunity for spiritual formation. When you see yourself yielding to your sin patterns, ask your self why am I thinking this way or acting this way? Is it out of self-pity? Boredom? Discouragement? Anger? (I’m darn well going to do what I want because I am mad!). Then disarm that reason, calling it out for what it is, naming it, and looking to Jesus to heal your self-pity, boredom, discouragement or anger. Identify the source of the focus you are wrongly fixated on, and turn it over to Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him the Author and Perfector of your faith.
We’ve talked about how God designed us to trust him. Then we looked at how our natural tendency is to trust our own way of thinking, to take our own path. But this Scripture has a second part, like a couplet that repeats the truth “in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path”. The word path, and ways and direction figure prominently in this counsel. And I believe that Solomon is saying God will direct your path when you understand that God is pointing to himself, the ONE who said “I am the Way”. The third part then, of this message is direction.
Direction. We will never be able to stay on the path of God, of completely trusting God unless we have given ourselves to the God who faithfully walked the path. Andy Stanley has said “Direction, not intention determines destination”. If I want to get to Asheville or Nashville when I leave church today I need to be intentional about jumping on I40. Yes, admittedly. And for sure, whatever direction I choose determines where I will land up. But, intentions only get you part way: for example, I might in fact by accident or distraction get going the wrong direction. My intention was good but the actual direction trumps my good intentions. The fact is that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. In the same way we must determine in our hearts that our destination is faithfulness and trust in God-ward not self-ward. I may have all these good intentions to follow God: great! But remember this: the gospel highway is not like the interstate. It is God himself who has made the WAY to Him, He put us in the direction toward himself. He is our final destination. It is God Incarnate who came in the flesh to show us this way. Jesus: The Wisdom of God who came and lived and taught and died and was raised unto life. Jesus said I am the Way the Truth and the Life, if any one wants to find life, let him take up his cross daily and follow me. Because Jesus was faithful we can also be found faithful. Trusting God is impossible in and of ourselves. But when we have surrendered our life to Christ, the same power that brought Jesus back to life is the power that is in US enabling us to not lean on ourselves but rather to live for him. Do you want a life that at the end of it, when you see Jesus face to face, he says: Well done! You’ve arrived! Welcome!? Then trust in Him completely and let every decision you make be rooted in His love for you and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and prompting in your life.