Proverbs 16: You Are Not God
Do you find yourself anxious about the future? I know I do. It’s like an inner, nagging voice that interrupts my day and prompts me to think of worst case scenarios that could happen days, months, or years from now. This same voice often makes me doubt if I am even doing what God wants me to do with my life. If you’re like me and that looming anxiety doesn’t go away on its own, you may be able to relate to the famous quote of Augustine in which he states, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We are restless until we rest in God. My hope for you is that Proverbs 16 will calm your quiet soul by allowing you to rest in God. Listen carefully, because this is God’s Word to you.
Don't Follow Your Heart
“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” (v. 2)
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (v. 25)
The world, flesh, and devil all have a way of making sin look appealing. We can almost always justify sinful actions in our hearts. One might be convinced they were actually meant to be married to a different man and leaving their current husband for another man is God’s will. Another might think it is God’s desire for her to be happy, even if seeking that happiness involves doing things that God forbids in His word.
What is perhaps most frightening about following one’s sinful heart is that it will eventually lead to death. Sin does this, and it does it in the most discreet, gradual way possible so as to fool you into believing you were on the right path all along. As John Owen says, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Throughout this chapter of Proverbs we see a contrast between man’s way and God’s way.
When our hearts say, “It’s okay if you lie to your boss in order to make yourself look better...just think of how that bonus will help your family”, God’s Word says, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice” (v. 8).
When your heart says, “Be proud of who you are! You are better than them! You deserve everything you want!” God’s Word says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud” (vs. 18-19).
When your heart says, “You need to be avoiding aging at all costs and pursuing youth. There’s nothing good about getting old”, God’s word says, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (v. 31).
God’s instruction to us often seems counter-intuitive. It is clear we cannot seek guidance from within our own hearts. We cannot even trust our own hearts because we are so tainted by sin.
You Are Not in Charge, and That’s a Good Thing!
“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (v. 1)
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (v. 9)
The truth is we do experience the freedom in making plans, choosing a path we think best, and making decisions about the future. But it is the Lord who determines the outcome. The matter of free will and God’s providence can be complex to many, but God’s Word is clear: man is responsible for his actions, and yet, God is sovereign in directing all events to lead to His glory. We should be keeping this truth in mind when we worry about the future, and it should comfort us! You and I are completely under-qualified for God’s job. If we knew what He knows, we would understand why He does what He does. Rest in His sovereignty and goodness!
Commit Your Work to the Lord
“Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.” (v. 3)
As we can see thus far, living autonomously does not bring lasting fulfillment at all. In fact, it binds us as slaves to counterfeit gods and leads us to death. In fact, it was a desire for autonomy that led to the fall of man in Genesis 3. True fulfillment can only be found living our lives in light of the cross and humbly submitting to His will.
How can we do this, practically speaking? Primarily, we need to surrender every aspect of our lives by admitting we are not God and acknowledging that He is! We need to be laying down our burdens at the Father’s feet through prayer every day. We also need to be prayerfully seeking Him for guidance, strength, and for wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” God grants wisdom primarily through His word, though it is often wise to seek counsel from godly men and women, including your pastor and elders.
Ultimately, the first step in committing your plans to the Lord is having a humble heart that trusts God’s wisdom and care over anyone else’s.
Jerry Bridges once said, “Be satisfied with His management of your concerns. Put your works, as you would put your children, with confidence in the hands of God. Let your heart habitually turn to the throne of grace.”
Sisters, please hear me out: such tenacity before God can only be accomplished by one who is born again. Committing one’s works to the Lord can only be done in a heart that is repentant, humble, contrite, and revived by the living God. And this living God sent his Son to die for you. How then could He go through such trouble to gain so much for us and then let it all fall apart? Trust Him today about all of your tomorrows.
Chelsey Meissner is obsessed with seeing and savoring Jesus. She is a lover of books, coffee, cats, running, and all things vintage. Chelsey is excited to travel the the world with her husband, Eric, who is a Marine Officer.