“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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