“How To Have Approval And Success In The Eyes Of God”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Proverbs 3.5-6
Proverbs 3. On October 11th of 2012 was the international day of the girl. It’s a date set aside each year to advocate girls’ rights and raise issues concerning gender bias against girls. CNN, an American news station, spoke with some of the world’s most remarkable and impressive women. These women were, according to the world’s estimation anyway, the most successful in their fields of expertise. The women that they interviewed were successful in the fields of politics, journalism, science, and sports.
CNN asked them was this question, “Looking back, what one piece of advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?”
I would like to give you a few of these quotations to see what you think of them. Can you run these statements through a biblical sieve? Can you discern God’s mind on statements like this…
One billionaire woman said, Quote…”Make sure you continue to trust what you know now about yourself and stay true to what you believe in.” That was Melinda Gates, Bill Gates’ wife.
Here’s another one.
Quote…“You’ve spent too many days and years trying to please others and be what they wanted you to be. You will have to learn that the wounds of your past … damaged your self-esteem. Yet through it all, you held onto a belief in God and God’s belief in you.” Any guess? That was Oprah Winfrey.
Last one, and my favorite, in a sense. This woman is an American journalist, author, and activist. She describes her mission as “to inform, inspire, and ignite people to impact their world as architects of change.”
Ready? Quote…“Never think that someone else knows what’s best for you. Trust your way and don’t ask for so much advice. Learn how to be quiet and still and to hear your own voice. It’s up to you: Your voice will either be silenced or will get to roar.” That’s Maria Shriver, journalist and former anchor for NBC News.
Now, why are we bringing this up? Well, last week we began a series in Proverbs 3. We are interrupting our series in Mark.
Last week we touched on some of the issues we face as parents and children. We discussed the need for fathers to be instructing their children and we also talked about some of the hindrances to profitable father-children Bible instruction times.
I’ve heard from many of you on how last week really struck a chord with you and your families. The tender response is definitely an encouragement.
So, I’ve been thinking about how exactly to move forward on this note. How do we as families honor the Lord? Well, what I think what would be appropriate would be is if we worked together, as a church, on a family mission statement. At some point in the future, either on Thursday or on a family night, I will guide us through developing a family mission statement.
And of course, this will have to be your very own, personal family’s mission statement. Where you and your family get together and moms and dads lead the family in a discussion on what God’s plan is for your family. And that’s the question, really, isn’t it? What is God’s desire for you personally and your family?
And when we get together, we will be thinking about various questions and Bible verses. We will have a handout and you and your family will go home and work together until, by the grace of God, a biblically-founded family mission statement develops. And of course, the goal will be that everything that you are, think, have, and do will be run through that mission statement. In other words, there are things in your life, activities in your life, attitudes in your family, whatever, if there’s anything that doesn’t support that mission statement, you’ll have to make some changes. Some things might have to go, other things may just have to be tweaked. Other things might have to be added.
So, I will be leading us through how to develop the mission statement and then as well how to develop a family plan to actually line your family up with the mission statement. It’s nice to have a mission statement, but if you don’t know how to implement a daily plan, what good is it?
So you can be thinking about that even now. And when we do that, I will announce that ahead of time. It will likely be at our next family night, but we will see how the Lord leads.
Last week, we introduced the book of Proverbs. I will not reintroduce the book, but let me just point out that this is a book of Proverbs, not a book of guarantees. In other words, the book of Proverbs is, for the most part, made up of general principles that are typically true. Most of the Proverbs are not meant to be true in every circumstance.
Last week as well, we said Proverbs 3 is all about how to find approval and success in the eyes of God and man. We only got to first four verses last week. And in these verses, we saw a father instructing his son. And we concluded with verse four, which we take as our theme verse for the chapter.
Proverbs 3:1-4 1 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. 3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man.
So here’s a father pleading with his son to internalize his teaching. The father is urging the son to give his heart to him. The godly father wants the heart of his children. And here he is giving benefits to following his teachings. For example, verse two you will have a long life and you will have peace. And the other motivation to following your father’s teaching is found in verse four, our theme verse for the chapter.
And we translated this verse last time as “so you will find approval and success in the sight of God and man.” In verse four, we translated “favor” as “approval” and we translated “good repute” as “success.” If you have a King James Bible, you likely have an alternate translation. For “good repute” you probably have “good understanding” and in the margin of your Bible, you have the alternate translation that I’m suggesting, “good success.”
If you are diligent to follow your godly father’s teaching, you will find approval and success in the sight of God and man.
And that verse, as we said, outlines the rest of the chapter. In verses 5-12 now, we have Solomon’s teaching on how to find approval and success in the sight of God. Approval and success in the sight of God is the topic in verses 5-12. Approval and success in the sight of man is the topic for the last part of the chapter.
Now, there are four ways in which to find approval in the sight of God and this morning, we will only deal with the first of those ways. First way in which to find success and approval in the sight of the LORD is to trust the Lord.
Trust the LORD (3:5-6)
Trust the LORD for true, godly success and approval. If you do, you will have straight paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
If you trust the Lord, the end of verse six promises that you will have straight paths. To motivate us before we begin, to have straight paths refers to achieving your divinely-appointed goal unhindered. If you want to achieve God’s goal for you in your life unhindered by anything that’s in you or out there, if you want God’s goal to be accomplished in your life, you’re going to have to trust the Lord as it is described in verses five and six.
*But there is constant competition over whom to trust.*
Verse five reveals that there is a constant battle in your heart over whom to trust. There is one option in the first line of verse five and there is another option in the second line. Either you will trust the Lord, or you will trust in yourself.
Let’s really think through these two options together. How motivated ought you to be to trust in the Lord instead of yourself?
We’ll first describe ourselves then the LORD. These descriptions will hopefully give us the motivation that we need to choose to trust the Lord. If you really know yourself, would you trust yourself? If you really know God, would you trust God? I think you know the answer to that already.
But first, what does it mean to trust?
This word, trust, literally means here to lie helplessly face down. You can picture that can’t you? It is translated that way in Jeremiah 12:5 “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
Taking that picture of lying helplessly face down …To trust then means to have a radical and humble reliance upon the Lord.
Trust the LORD entirely (“with all your heart”)
Notice here in verse five, that you should trust in the Lord entirely. You should have a radical and humble reliance upon the Lord. It should be with, notice the wording there, all of the heart. Trust the Lord entirely.
You should rely upon God’s thoughts even when it seems to disagree with human logic or the natural inclinations of your heart. Every T-section in the road of life and every T-section in your heart when you make choices …every turn you make at every T-section in in your heart and life should be guided perfectly by the map of God’s Word. There is nothing that you do that is not fully informed by the thoughts of God. You trust in God and His Word.
TRANS: But not only should you trust in the Lord entirely, but you should trust in the Lord exclusively. Don’t lean on anything; don’t lean on your own understanding. Trust the LORD exclusively.
Trust the LORD exclusively (“do not lean on your own understanding”)
To lean on something means to support yourself. You only lean on something that you know has integrity.
ILL: When we moved into the house we purchased, we inherited a rickety old picnic table. Some of the boards on that thing are well worn, to say the least.
At first glance, you look down and think, “if I put my weight on that, will I fall through?” If you do, you just might! No really, it’s not that bad. Just needs a little fixing up.
It works that way with our own understanding. You need to look at your own understanding and interpretation of things with a lot of suspicion. Don’t lean on your own understanding like you wouldn’t put your weight on a rotten picnic table.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Should you take that job, should you marry that man, should you go after this, should you participate in this thing, should you enjoy that… What you should and should not do can seem right to you, but it very well may be that the end of that way is death. You may be separating yourself more and more from God and fellowship with him if you choose this or that.
Everybody seems to do being this …our culture is so geared up this way and so for me and my family, we do that. Where is my life and my families life patterned after the culture? From the moment I get up to when I go to bed, how is my family like the world’s ideal and not like God’s ideal?
We do such and such like the world, because, you say, it give us more opportunities to meet lost people or some it strengthens my kids’ abilities or we just enjoy it, but if your walk with God or your family’s walk with God is suffering, is this really for the glory of God? Trust in the Lord entirely and exclusively, with all of your heart even if it has to mean you take a cut in pay and you can’t succeed the way the world requires. You must value what God values and rely totally upon him for everything till this world ends.
“Do right till the stars fall,” and as we’ve seen in Mark 13 and will see, they most certainly will fall!
And really, how could you trust your own understanding, if you really know yourself?
When you think of yourself, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
“Well, I am basically good, but I have a few shortcomings. Occasionally, I have a chat with God about my shortcomings.”
“Well, I’m pretty good at doing stuff! I can do things pretty good! And when stuff needs to get done, I can do it.”
ILL: Do you know what my least favorite children’s book is? It’s ranked 38th on the 2007 National Education Association list of the Top 100 books for kids. It’s The Little Engine that Could. “I think I can, I think I can.”
This evil wicked thinking is in you and me, even from childhood. It’s a constant battle to reject it. What we really need to know is that …
We are sinners (Ro. 7:18).
Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
Let’s just be frank! When was the last time you admitted that? To God or to your spouse? To anyone? “I sinned against you and against God.”
Far from “I think I can, I think I can” … in fact, “I know I can’t, I know I can’t”
Jesus says, you are incapable (John 15:5).
John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
If you think there was something that you did that was good and God thinks it was good, then guess what? Without Jesus, that never would have happened. Apart from Christ, you are incapable. “Without Me,” Jesus says, “you can do nothing.” Can you do something apart from Christ? No. Do you know you can’t, know you can’t? It takes a lot of God’s Word to truly convince you of that.
But guaranteed, at the end, it’s Jesus’ words, not the words of that little blue engine, that will matter.
Finally, you are weak (1 Co. 1:26-28).
1 Corinthians 1:26-28 26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
That’s you. Not really all that worldly wise; not mighty; not noble;
So, I trust you’re encouraged by this! No, really! You thought it all rested on your shoulders! But no! It’s God who has to do the work. Pressure? What pressure? Without Christ, I can’t do anything anyway.
ILL: So do you realize how dependant you really are on him? It’s like how small children fail to realize how dependent they are on their parents. They really have no idea! Every day, they wake up in the morning and there is food on that table! Every day! Where did that food come from? They don’t care. They don’t even think about it! They don’t appreciate that daddy worked long and hard hours to make that money. They don’t understand that when mommy goes to the store, it’s because of those long hours. They go off and play, while mommy slaves away in the kitchen. They don’t comprehend the difficulty of the sacrifice that mommy or daddy make. They don’t realize how dependent they are on them. Without mommy or daddy, they would not even survive, let alone thrive, learn, or grow in a healthy way physically or spiritually.
Just like little children, we have no idea how dependent we are on God. We are sinners, we are weak, and we are incapable. No wonder Jesus frequently addresses his disciples as children. Jesus said Matthew 18:4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
So, we’re really on the topic of humility, aren’t we? Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s not thinking of yourself at all. Think of God and think His thoughts in all things.
So, we’ve learned that we aren’t not trustworthy. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
Trusting in your heart and in your so-called abilities to make good choices is the sure way to destruction, no matter how much the world says you have succeeded.
TRANS: So, whom do you trust? You know you can’t lean on your own understanding. You trust in the Lord. But who is the Lord?
When you think of God, what is the first thing that you think of?
A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
If somehow, we could project up on the screen over here [left hand side] your beliefs about God: your beliefs about who he is, what he has done, what he is capable of, what his attributes are like… what you really truly believe about God, not what textbook answers you can give about who he is, but your real, experiential knowledge of God … If we could project that up on the screen, and then up here project your entire life, we could match up exactly what you believe about God with how your entire life functions.
To live right, we must have intimate knowledge of God in our hearts.
What does it take to get us to trust someone? If someone is strong enough, wise enough, and loving enough, we’ll trust them. God is to an infinitely those things. God is a strong sovereign, He is infinite in wisdom, and perfect is love.
He is a strong Sovereign
The Lord our God is in the heavens and he does whatever he pleases. When he plans something, who can frustrate it? When he stretches out his hand, is there anyone who can turn it back?
“The Lord himself declares even from eternity,” he says, “I am the Lord and there is no one who can deliver out of my hand. I act and who can turn it back?”
There is no one like him. He can declare the end all the way back there from the beginning. From eternity past, he can declare the things that have not yet happened.
And to him, all the inhabitants of the earth seem like nothing. He alone does according to his will on the host of heaven and among the people of the Earth and no one can ward off his hand or say to him what had you done?
Like on Thursday night we learned, out of the kind and gracious sovereignty of God, we have obtained an inheritance because we have been predestined according to his purpose. He works all things after the counsel of his own will.
And so our testimony ought to be that of Job’s when he says…
Job 42:2 “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
TRANS: God is a strong sovereign and no kind gracious purpose of His can be stopped. God is not just a strong sovereign, but infinitely wise.
It was through wisdom, that God founded the earth.
Proverbs 3:19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.
The enormity of the outer space is beyond our comprehension. The intricate details of the finest flower causes us to marvel. The cycles of water and the food chain make us wonder. The shades of blue, green, and purple in the sky and the shades of green, yellow, and red on the earth speak volumes in our spirits … even though there are no words actually spoken! God is infinite in His wisdom.
TRANS: God is sovereign, wise, and now He is perfect in his love.
The Lord Jesus manifested his great love toward us in that while we were yet filthy sinners, Christ died for us. He came to seek and to save us, who have lost their own way. And in the moment of his crucifixion out of his great love he prayed for his enemies, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
There is no greater love that one could possess and that he would lay down his life for his friends. And we know that he has loved us and that he himself has laid down his own life on our behalf. He’s released us from power and the penalty of our sins and even now, because of His love, He always lives to make intercession for us.
And when He ascended up on high he did not leave us without comfort, but he sent the Holy Spirit that He might be with us forever. And we need help beyond help to know the love of Christ, because it surpasses knowledge! And this love of God will never end! Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Will distress separate us from the love of Christ?
Of course not!
If we were to fill the whole ocean with ink and if all of the heavens were made of paper and every twig on this earth were a pen and of every man on this earth was a best-selling author and if the whole world were then to attempt to write out the love of God on that paper as big as all of outer space, it would drain the ocean dry and outerspace couldn’t contain the whole of God’s love….
… even if you were to stretch it from sky to sky. “Oh love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! … that most certainly will always be forevermore, the saints and angels song.” We just sang that hymn there before the message.
So, how could we not endeavor by God’s grace to trust the LORD, if He is loving, wise, and an infinitely strong Sovereign!? So get in His Word and endeavor to change every aspect of your life to match up exactly to God’s Word. And I think that family mission statement will be a start to that.
TRANS: So, trust in the LORD entirely, with all your heart v.5. Trust in the LORD exclusively, don’t lean on your own understanding or anything else. Now, thirdly, trust in the LORD extensively. Verse 6, “in all your ways, acknowledge him.” Your trust in the LORD should extend to all your ways. Trust in the LORD extensively.
Trust the LORD extensively (“in all your ways, acknowledge him”)
You have your way about you. You do this or that. You have these likes or dislikes. But God has got you on path in order to make you like His Son.
ILL: What you need is divine direction. How many of you have you ever played that game labyrinth? It’s that wooden box that you can tilt and on the top is a maze with those holes.
The skillful One above the maze can direct that ball without flaw. Even so God, the infinitely skillful One, who stands above the maze of your life, can direct you without flaw. Only trust him, only trust what He says now! Find out what He says and do it! He made you, He made your path, He made your path for you and you for the path, and only He can direct you effectively.
And in every path of your life, acknowledge him. And the word acknowledge does not mean “to tip your hat to.” As if to merely give some recognition to God. No, this is the word for know. In all of your ways know God. Know him in all your ways.
In the paths your day takes you and in the multiplicity of decisions you make, know Him in the entirety of His counsel for you as it relates to every aspect of your life. How will your choice here, affect those you love? How will your choices today, affect the lives of others tomorrow?
ILL: And you make about 35,000 decisions every day, in case you didn’t know. I bet you could multiple that by 10% for every additional person in your family. Now, how many of those choices are being made out of a lack of knowledge of God?
Know God in all your ways. Now, if you trust in the LORD entirely, with all your heart and if you trust in Him exclusively, not leaning on your own understanding and if you trust in Him extensively, extending to all your ways, not just some, then you can count on the LORD making your paths straight. He will be the One to make you successful in His eyes!
Trust the LORD and He will make you successful (“He will direct your paths).
Isn’t this what we want? We want to be successful in God’s eyes; we want Him to direct our paths. It takes trusting Him as is described here for us to be truly successful. And if you trust Him, you will endeavor to ransack God’s Word and get a plan ready so that you can pattern your life around it.
We want the paths of our lives to be clear, unobstructed by our own ambitions. What will clear the way? Only trust that causes us to fall down flat before God.
Trust in the Lord the passage describes, and he will make you successful in your 35,000 choices every day. And then over a lifetime of approximately 894,250,000 choices, you’ll be living a godly life.
In light of God’s character and in light of what He has said, your life will be one that is successful. Successful in living for him, your education, your career, your money, and your friendships and family.
But it’s getting to the point where you understand to an intimate level that He is Lord over all and he has all the authority. And nothing runs apart from his divine directive and nothing happens to you as his child apart from his kind Providence.
It is knowing him in all of your trials that will make God and His Word not only your map in life, but the very Maker of the paths in your life. To know Him is to love and to trust him more and more.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Proverbs 3.5-6
Would you commit yourself and your loved ones under your care to wholly trusting God even if it hurts? Even if you have to cut out things you don’t want to, to best conform your life to God’s Word? Will you endeavor to step out and trust Him entirely, exclusively, and extensively? If you will, then and then only, will you enjoy God’s success as it’s meant to be. The LORD says in Isaiah…
Isaiah 43:1-4 1 … “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the floods, they will not sweep o’er you; when you walk through the fire, you will not be consumed … [you are mine]…
… 3 “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; …you are precious in My sight, … you are honored and I love you, says the LORD, your Creator.
Let’s turn to 447. Resting is not taking a nap, but depending on Jesus. Trusting. ***REFRAIN ONLY AFTER LAST STANZA***