Walking a Straight Path

When I was a child growing up in Baltimore, MD I spent my summers doing what most of the kids in my neighborhood did – exploring the fields and woods near where we lived. In those days crime was almost nonexistent and dangers were few. I was allowed to roam, as long as I stayed within clearly defined limits established by my parents for my own protection. If I ventured beyond those boundaries I faced two likely consequences. First was the possibility of injury. The second was much more serious – it had to do with facing my parents when they found out, which was never pleasant, but always beneficial. In either case, the cause of my predicament was an unwise decision on my part, for which I alone bore the responsibility.

A similar scenario plays out in the lives of multitudes of¬†Christians many times every week. They make important, often life-changing decisions, based on their own wisdom, while ignoring the guidance and boundaries established for their protection and safety by a loving heavenly Father. They assume that they know what’s best, only to learn too late that their wisdom and understanding is faulty.

The sad thing is that there’s no reason for a believer to make that mistake. A very familiar passage provides sufficient guidance to keep any Christian from walking a dangerous or unhealthy path in life. Proverbs 3:5-6 provides three specific guidelines that will lead to walking a straight path in this life.

  • A command to obey: “Trust in the Lord.” – As believers we have a perfect Father, who knows our specific needs. He will not betray us with unsound guidance. We can, and should, trust Him unconditionally.
  • A mistake to avoid: “lean not unto thine own understanding” – On the other hand, our human understanding is so limited as to make it untrustworthy. Trusting “our understanding”¬†indicates dangerous self-deception.
  • An admonition to heed: “in all thy ways acknowledge Him” – The word “acknowledge” implies a willingness to take our trust in the Lord a step further. It suggests an eagerness to actively seek His guidance because we understand its value in our lives.

The final statement is, “and he shall direct thy paths.” There is no ambiguity in this promise. If we regard the first three guidelines, God will give us the wisdom necessary to keep our path straight.

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