The beginning of this proverb led me to believe the whole this was going to be about how we think we’re in control and know what’s up, but the truth is the Lord knows more and sometimes has plans that are far different from our own.
But the proverb has so much more than that!
Let’s break it into three bits of wisdom:
1. It’s all about God’s time, not ours.
2. The Lord’s love is amazing.
3. Character is important.
To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and He will establish your plans.
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
I’ve talked time and time again about asking the Lord for things. If you are committing your work to the Lord He is going to establish your plans, but you better be prepared for those plans to be different from what you had had in mind. This little cartoon may help:
Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.
Proverbs 16: 6
I think we need to all pause for a moment and remember this was written before Jesus came to Earth. We get this idea in our head that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God are two different gods and that just isn’t true. Through love sin is atoned for. Amazing! This isn’t the only place that talks about how God wants love more than the gore and violence we associate with the Old Testament (Hosea 6:6, Psalm 51:16, or just look at this list).
God’s love has been so evident and so clear for so long. He just wants us to be with Him.
Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.
There’s a saying I learned a long time ago that for the most part is true: We can’t control what’s done to us, but we can control how we react. I think that phrase is important here. If things are going well for you, remember all good comes from the Lord, and you react by thinking you’re all that while ignoring the Lord in your life–you better watch out for that fall.
Likewise, we can’t control the co-worker who steps on our toes, doesn’t turn forms in on time, refuses to change their work ethic for efficiency, and doesn’t read emails (we all know what “per my last e-mail” really means), but you can choose to take a breath and pray. You can pray for your own heart, you can pray true blessings over them (passive aggressive prayers like “God, please help this person not be a slob” are not what I’m suggesting), and maybe even show the love of Christ to them by offering them a donut, some vitamins during cold season, or a piece of chocolate at the 2pm slump hour. All of that is a quality of a person with patience and self-control vs. the person who either straight up yells at employees in frustration (don’t be that guy, please) or goes to the boss/HR with every complaint.
Grow your character by loving others. Hear their stories. Find out why they are the way they are. They may still annoy you and you may have to keep praying for God to change your heart, but that process of working on you instead of spending so much energy disliking them proves to be fruitful…eventually.
Blessings, brothers and sisters;