God's Way or the Highway
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“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12 ESV)
Do you think you know what to do next? Is it what God wants?
The Bible is clear. There is a way that seems right to a man—a plan that makes sense to us humans down here on earth—but its end is the way to death. Translation: it doesn’t end well.
Every day, billions of us make the mistake of choosing paths that we believe are right, and those of us who choose to follow Christ make a similar mistake of “interpreting” what God wants for us through the reliably imperfect lens of our own experience and desires. We have rules for God and how He works based on what we’ve seen, and we try to figure out the future and get what we want using those rules.
But God’s Word challenges this mindset. Take Job for example. This man whom God described as blameless—a man of integrity who tried to honor God by not leading a life of willful sin—suddenly faced more suffering than many of us could imagine. He lost all he had—his health, family, and possessions—and turned to God wondering why. Wondering would have been alright, but Job then began to get angry with God and accused God of mistreating him, of not following the rules.
Along came Job’s friends with their “wisdom,” and they shared their opinions from personal experience which led Job nowhere. That was until a young man named Elihu showed up who recognized how wrong they all were and began to justify God, saying: “God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice” (Job 34:12, ESV). That was the revealed truth about God, not Elihu’s opinion. Job didn’t understand what was going on as he suffered, but he should have trusted God’s character. Instead, Job and his friends tried to make sense of things using their past experiences and failed.
A similar situation occurred in the New Testament in Acts 15. The early church was blossoming until some men came along who tried to say there were extra requirements for salvation beyond faith in the risen Christ (Acts 15:1). Unfortunately, the lies began to gain steam, because the early church leaders were traditional Jews, some of whom were even believing Pharisees, a group Jesus had once corrected saying, “…for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God” (Matthew 15:6).
That’s always the problem, overriding God’s word with our “tradition,” our regular practices guided by our experience. For those early church leaders, many arguments ensued, but it wasn’t complicated. They needed to lay aside their experience and trust what God had revealed to them. They needed to trust God’s Word that all people would be saved by faith alone, a truth they finally accepted in the end (Acts 15:11).
We need to do the same. We need to turn to God’s Word as the primary source for all our decision-making, and we need to let God be God. His ways are higher. He knows what is right, and our experience does not tell us the truth. The heart is deceitful and wicked; who can understand it? We can let the Word be the lens through which we discern God’s will in our circumstances. Ultimately, when we don’t understand, we can rest on the truth: “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 straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.
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