Do Not Lean On Your Own Understanding

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

Proverbs frequently talks about not leaning on or trusting in our own understanding but instead trusting in the Lord. My whole life, I have heard people speak in these terms to mean Christians should not live and do things that “make sense” to them but trust in God when he communicates to them personally what they are called to do.

But frankly, this is the opposite of wisdom according to Proverbs. To be wise and to rely on and trust in the Lord is to heed his instruction and to let that guide our lives (see Proverbs 2-3). The notion of “our own understanding” refers to wisdom and knowledge that is gained outside of covenant fellowship with God. It is the opposite of the fear of the Lord. It is to look at the world and approach life as if God does not exist, independently judging what is right, true, and wise by ignoring his written word.

Ironically, the typical way many Christians employ famous passages like Proverbs 3:5 actually directly contradicts what Proverbs intends.

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One thought on “Do Not Lean On Your Own Understanding

  1. While I certainly don’t want completely discount ‘nudgings’ from the Holy Spirit, I totally agree with your sentiment. It’s been en vogue for many evangelicals to sport a mild-to-full-blown charismatic perspective that can covertly create another source of revelation: the ‘warm fuzzies’ (as you’re and my favorite professor at Wake used to say). I have counseled at least one high school student and one adult who have said “I feel like the Lord wants me to do X” which flatly contradicts clear Scripture. If you feel like the Lord ‘wants’ you to sleep with your boyfriend, it’s not the Lord who is making such a suggestion, it’s somebody else! The best way to ‘trust the Lord with all our hearts’ is to trust the words he has clearly given to us.
    Great post and thanks!

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