Word of the Week: Understanding

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding

 –Proverbs 3:5

The verse is easy to memorize, but it’s so hard to live. I often feel that I’m good at the trusting, and even the leaning. Where I fail most (and the trust and the leaning aren’t real) is that last part: understanding.

I’m a wanna-know-it-all.

I’m really grateful God gives us brains and I use mine constantly. Too much.

As a result, I tend to think myself and other people have a lot of that word: understanding. But even if we were all ultra-smart and extra-logical, God’s Word would still be true on this matter.

It’s risky to lean on our own understanding to the exclusion of trusting in the Lord.

Just a few examples of why:

  1. Understanding as a Human is Interpretative

For all our love of logic, the truth is this: our understanding is coupled with our own interpretation. Part of being human is having a perspective that isn’t perfect. All things we take in, we see from a human point of view. Our filters are tainted by sin, even when it comes to how we remember and apply facts.

  1. We Never Have All the Facts

Since we’re not omniscient and all-knowing, we never have all of the facts like God does. Our understanding is, consequently, always limited. To fill in what’s missing in our knowledge gaps, we have to use interpretation, assumptions, and conjecture.

  1. Understanding Isn’t Wisdom

What we do with our understanding (the way we lean on it) isn’t necessarily wise. We can have all of the facts and make poor judgement calls. Many matters are not purely logical, as Mr. Spock can attest.

  1. The Heart and the Brain Both Matter

Head knowledge is typically associated with understanding. Heart knowledge is another matter, and whether we see it or not, the two are connected inextricably. When we rely on just one or the other consistently, we’re setting ourselves up to fail.

  1. Our Own Understanding Never Seems to See God Correctly

Take the verse as a whole: we shouldn’t lean on our own understanding because we should trust in the Lord with all our hearts. Leaning is a version of trust. Our own understanding doesn’t lean on God the way it would if it was correct. After all, perfect understanding would have us relying on the one who knows all, wouldn’t it?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Recognizing the Voice of Truth

Photo from: www.tleecorp.com

You wake up and hear your spouse’s voice. Then your pets. Probably your kids. As you head out the door, you hear people in the neighborhood. People on the radio talk and sing. Your co-workers and boss speak, play music, and send you signals of the verbal and nonverbal variety. Friends text you. You read announcements, billboards, and emails. The phone rings.

By the end of the day, you’ve heard the voices of a hundred or so people, programs, papers, and media outlets. That’s a lot to sift through.

Even if you try to listen to Christian music, watch decent television, and keep solid company close by, you’re bound to absorb information that distracts from the one thing you need to hear: the voice of truth.

John 10:4-5 tells us that “he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

That’s a lot of running away, isn’t it?

So much of what we hear does not possess the voice of the Lord. Unfortunately, to sort out the good from the bad, we rarely listen to the voice speaking in order to make a decision. Rather, we decide based on the content.

Often the words and messages that bombard us are full of worldly content and urge us, ultimately, to focus more on ourselves. We take to heart messages with content that is practical or that gets our emotions surging. Words that comment on the things dear to us are used to steer us.

But that’s not what Scripture says.

To discern the voice of truth, we must listen to know who is speaking.

Consider how firmly and clearly Jesus rebuked Peter when he spoke, not of the Spirit, but as one approaching from the concerns of the world (Matthew 16:23.) His words were “get behind me, Satan!” In another example, we see how Bartimaeus chose not to listen to the crowds telling him to hush because he knew that the voice he needed to hear was Christ’s, regardless of what might be said (Mark 10.)

Here’s what we know about the one who speaks:

  • His voice is one of stillness (see Job or Elijah)
  • His tone bears the fruit of the Spirit, like gentleness and kindness
  • His words are clear because He is not an author of confusion
  • All that is wrong trembles at the sound
  • He speaks through unifying voices, like loved ones who agree
  • His perspective does not change and does not conflict with the Bible
  • He calls us by name
  • His purpose is life-giving

Listen for that voice –His voice- among all the others. It’s simpler than we tend to let it be. We don’t need to weigh the words to decide which way to go.  Like sheep, we should simply listen for the one we know and follow, ever listening to the sweet sound of the one who knows THE WAY. 

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkupIntentionally Pursuing,Titus2sday, and Thought-Provoking Thursday.