Who Are You Trusting In
Who Are You Trusting In?
“Trust - But Don’t Lean”
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church
July 25, 2004
Focal Point: Vv. 5,6
The story has been told by Albert Mygatt that a Canadian pastor friend of his, in a period of great despondency, received the help he needed from reading the following delightful, true incident. The local parks commission had been ordered to remove the trees from a certain street that was to be widened. As they were about to begin, the foreman and his men noticed a robin’s nest in one of the trees and the mother robin sitting on the nest. The foreman ordered the men to leave the tree until later.
Returning, they found the nest occupied by little wide-mouthed robins. Again they left the tree. When they returned at a later date they found the nest empty. The family had grown and flown away. But something at the bottom of the nest caught the eye of one of the workmen—a soiled, little white card. When he had separated it from the mud and sticks, he found that it was a small Sunday school card and on it the words, “We trust in the Lord our God”
What is the major theme of the Book of Proverbs? One word answers the question: wisdom.
Wisdom was an important commodity in the ancient Near East; every ruler had his council of “wise men” whom he consulted when making important decisions. Joseph was considered a wise man in Egypt and Daniel and his friends were honored for their wisdom while serving in Babylon. God wants His children today to “walk circumspectly [carefully], not as fools but as wise” (Eph. 5:15,). Understanding the Book of Proverbs can help us do that. It isn’t enough simply to be educated and have knowledge, as important as education is. We also need wisdom, which is the ability to use knowledge. Wise men and women have the competence to grasp the meaning of a situation and understand what to do and how to do it in the right way at the right time.
The familiar passage in Matt. 6:26 reminds us to “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?”
Our goal today is to impart knowledge about a wisdom that will aid you in deciding where to place your trust, in every area of your life. Biblical wisdom begins with a right relationship with the Lord. The wise person believes that there is a God, that He is the Creator and Ruler of all things, and that He has put within His creation a divine order that, if obeyed, leads ultimately to success. Wise people also assert that there is a moral law operating in this world, a principle of divine justice which makes sure that eventually the wicked are judged and the righteous are rewarded. Biblical wisdom has little if any relationship to a person’s IQ or education, because it is a matter of moral and spiritual understanding. It has to do with character and values; it means looking at the world through the grid of God’s truth.
One of the first things that wisdom teaches us is that it is wise to decide in advance in whom and where you will place your trust. You see, if you don’t decide, then life, situations, people, things will decide for you.
You see, trust is a both a verb and an adverb in usage. As a verb, it is a learned response, an act of doing. It requires a deliberate action. It is an act of doing. As an adverb it is used with an object, such as to say I trust you, or I trust the chair to hold me. So, either way, you will trust something or someone. Some have said in an imprudent manner, “I trust no one but myself.” Well, that is just untrue. Everybody has to trust something or someone for something outside of self or else you would be god.
This is the aspect of trust that we will ponder today in this Biblical wisdom. The wisdom that considers all things through the aspect of God’s input.
The book of Proverbs is a collection of similes or parables from wise men concerning the way to conduct one’s life both in what is right and what is prudent. The first few chapters of the Proverbs are instructions in wisdom, and chapter 3 lets us in on some of the rewards of wisdom. As with any rewards, the plunder, the loot, the booty, the rewards of wisdom come only after a successful victory. When you get into the habit of placing your trust in the right object, then the rewards of wisdom will flow.
The trust that is being encroached upon in the text today leads the trusting one down a path. Using your God-given wisdom to apply your trust rightly will afford certain promises for the path one must travel. In our text today we find three types of trust:
1. Blind trust
2. Objective trust, and
3. Total trust
Depending upon the degree and the type of trust you enact, we further find three things that God will do for the trusting child. He will:
1. Protect your path
2. Perfect your path, and
3. Pilot your path
Blind trust is bordered on ignorance. We have already submitted that one must trust in something, and that a wise person determines beforehand just what or who will receive that trust.
Blind trust just wonders around aimlessly. Blind trust says, “Oh, I’ll make it, somehow.” No, God might help you make it, somehow, but you can do nothing of yourself. You have no guarantees with blind trust. Blind trust is self-indulgent, knows it all and can find it all. Blind trust is a waste of time and energy. Blind trust does not recognize good; it looks for opportunities both among the household of God and finds comfort in the seat of the scornful. Blind trust is here today, dressed to kill in black and white, nodding and agreeing; but tomorrow, blind trust will be nodding and agreeing with the most vile sinner at work and plotting mischief against a fellow worker. That’s blind trust.
Objective trust, on the other hand, sets its determination and its focus on an object outside of self. Objective trust is purposeful and determining. It ponders choices and makes decisions in a knowledgeable manner.
We can see objective trust in the book of Judges in the person of Deborah. Deborah was a prophetess to the nation, Israel. She held court under a palm tree. Her vision of the world was shaped not by the political situation of her day but by her relationship with God. She was one who heard God and believed Him. Deborah, like many who have objective trust, had enough trust in God for herself and others.
Deborah called the General of the Israeli army, Barak, and told him to gather 10,000 men because God was going to give Sisera, the general of the opposing army of Jabin into his hands. Some have said that Barak was terrified of Sisera. Maybe this was true for Sisera was surely known for his gallantry in battle and his many chariots. But whatever the reason, Barak could not afford the same trust that Deborah seemed to have. He answered that he would go to fight only if Deborah, a woman, would go with him. Barak needed stroking and encouragement. They could work together: Barak in the fields and Deborah as his encourager and director.
Because objective trust is so focused it can be generous and offer stroking. Barak was not a weak man. But since Deborah represented God, he just wanted God’s continual presence.
Sometimes, ladies you have to practice stroking to get what you want. I manage mostly men at work. Once I had a very nice Jewish man on staff. His work was always so neat, but his production was unacceptable. I tried talking with him, observing him, threatening him, but nothing worked until I stroked him. I began by complimenting the neatness of his work, dropping his name at my staff meetings and publicly asking for his input. Before long he was coming in early, staying late and singing in Hebrew at my graduation celebration. With your trust focused in the Great God of the Universe, you can afford to stroke those husbands when they just insist on going in the opposite direction. Let me illustrate: if your husband is a drinker and you treat him like and drunk every time he walks into the house, you’ve lost the object of your trust. If, on the other hand, you meet him at the door and lay one on him and occasionally express how appreciative you are for his provision, then you would be placing your trust in the God who calls those things that be not as though they were. Men, it works both ways. Deborah was the weaker vessel but she had the stronger faith and trust. Her trust was placed in the God whom she listened to and obeyed.
Total trust is the trust that we should strive toward. Total trust is total submission to the directions and ways to God. Total trust says that your eyes are fixed and you are not changing the scenery. We can see a picture of total trust in the Syrophoenician Woman in Mark 7. Basically, this is a great illustration of the love of God towards the Gentiles. This woman was not a Jew. She was a Cannanite from the district of Tyre and Sidon. She had a daughter possessed by a demon and she had heard about Jesus. When He came to her area, she looked Him up and upon finding Him she began shouting out for His help. No matter how hard the disciples tried to silence her, she continued to shout and cry out the Jesus. Her focus was fixed upon Him; she was not detoured by others; others did not dissuade her; she saw that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. As she reached Him, she immediately fell at His feet. That’s the picture of perfect trust. The word translated “trust” in verse 5 means “to lie helpless, facedown.” It pictures a servant waiting for the master’s command in readiness to obey, or a defeated soldier yielding himself to the conquering general. Many times I wrestle with my little grandson, Scean. When I get tired, which takes only a few minutes, I throw him face down on the bed with my hands in his back so that he can’t move, then I tell him to “say uncle”. That’s it! Total trust is to say uncle, only you don’t say uncle, you say “Abba, Father!” Whatever you wish is, whatever your will and desire for my life is, I’m ready to do it.
Trust in the Lord must be achieved without leaning. We have shown that trust has the picture of total surrender. It is the idea of lying prostrate before God, waiting for your orders and submitting to His will.
Leaning, on the other hand, is something else. You see, when you lean, you are partially erect and partially flat. You are not totally committed to either position. The danger, of course, is that when we lean on our own understanding we miss God’s will. This warning not to lean doesn’t suggest that God’s children turn off their brains and ignore their intelligence and common sense. It simply cautions us not to depend on our own wisdom and experience or the wisdom and experience of others. Abraham did this when he went to Egypt. He lied about Sarah and said that she was his sister and the Pharaoh took her for his own wife. And so did Joshua when he attacked the little town of Ai. Listening to a bad report, he sent only a few men to what he thought was an easy target. But when they got there, the people of Ai killed many of them and ran all of the Israelites out or town, running for their lives. When we become “wise in [our] own eyes” and lean to our own understanding, then we’re heading for trouble.
As Women of Worship, and men alike, if we take nothing else away from here today, we need to make a decision about whom we will trust from here on. We can truly worship God if we will trust and don’t lean. If we trust Him and don’t lean, we can and will experience the rewards, the blessings that come from such trust. The rest of Proverbs 3 shows us that God will:
Protect Your Path – He will guide you into the blessings that He has planned for you. True wealth comes from wisdom. Some people know the price of everything but the value of nothing; consequently, they make unwise choices and end up with shoddy merchandise. Happiness, pleasantness, and peace aren’t the guaranteed by-products of financial success, but they are guaranteed to the person who lives by God’s wisdom. Another blessing is harmony with God’s creation. The person who walks according to God’s wisdom can sing, “This is my Father’s world,” and really mean it. The wisdom of God brought everything into being including what science calls “the laws of nature.” “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell in it”. Another blessing is the Father’s providential care. Because God directs our path, He is able to protect our path. The Lord isn’t obligated to protect His children when they willfully go their own way.
But God will also:
Perfect Your Path - But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. If we walk in the way of God’s wisdom, the path gets brighter and brighter and there is no sunset! When the path ends, we step into a land where the light never dims, for “there shall be no night there” (Rev. 22:5). God has a plan for each of His children (Eph. 2:10), and if we walk in His wisdom, we can confidently say, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me”
Finally, God promises to:
Pilot Your Path (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 your paths straight v. 5,6). When you receive God’s truth into your heart, God renews your mind (Rom. 12:2) and enables you to think wisely. This helps you make right decisions and experience the guidance of God day by day. God in His loving providence directs us and prepares the path for us. Augustine said, “Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His providence.” But King David said it better long before Augustine: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
If you are willing to do God’s will, you will have God’s guidance (John 7:17), but if you treat God’s will like a buffet lunch, choosing only what pleases you, He will never direct you. As Warren Wiersbe says, “the will of God isn’t for the curious; it’s for the serious.”
God’s children can’t expect God’s leading if they shuffle back and forth between the path of wisdom and the path of the wicked (Prov. 4:14–17). Stay as far away from that path as you can! Don’t enter it! Avoid it! Don’t go near it! Go as far from it as you can! Yes, we must witness to unsaved people whom the Lord brings to us, but we must never adopt their lifestyle or imitate their ways. God doesn’t guide His children when they’re walking in darkness. When you’re living in the will of God, the path gets brighter and brighter, not darker and darker (1 John 1:5–10).
The problem is that we let the lessons of wisdom slip through our fingers and we lose them. Prov. 4:13 says: “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go”. Hold on to wisdom the way a child holds a parent’s hand and trusts momma or daddy to guide and protect. God is able to keep us from stumbling (Jude 24) if we’ll keep ourselves in His wisdom, and the job of keeping is ours alone.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane He went away to pray. He had His boys, Peter, James and John, with Him and He told them that His soul was deeply grieved to the point of death, and He asked them to keep watch while He prayed. He went a little beyond them, the Bible says, and fell to the ground (a picture of total and perfect trust) to pray. He asked God, who is able to do all things, to let the cup pass Him by, but He surrendered His will to the Father’s Will. When he returned to His boys, they were asleep. He admonished Simon (calling him by His fleshly name) that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Three times He went away to pray and returned to find them sleeping.
Most times, you have to trust God for yourself, all by yourself. Momma can’t trust for you, papa can’t trust for you, your boy and your girl, can’t trust Him for you. The decision is all yours! Jesus went on to die on Calvary so that you would not have to lean; He stayed in the grave three days and nights, so that you would not have to lean; He rose again from the grave on the 3rd day, so that you would not have to lean; and now, even today, at this very hour, He sits at the right hand of the Father, making intercessions and pleadings for you, so that you do not have to lean!
Women, today you call yourselves worshipers. And men, I’ve heard your praises to God. But are you walking in the way of wisdom? If you are then God promises to protect your path, pilot your path, and perfect your path.
The only thing that folly can offer us is danger, detours, and disappointments, ultimately leading to death. It shouldn’t be too difficult to make the right choice! Trust in the Lord, but don’t lean!