Frank Retief was pastor at St James Church Cape Town for 31 years, having planted the church in 1968 with his wife Beulah. He became the Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in South Africa until he retired in 2010. Frank remains active in ministry through preaching, teaching, pastoral work & writing, and has authored a number of books.
Proverbs 3:5 & 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.”
We always have to choose between two different ways of looking at life – our way and God’s way. Our natural tendency is to make our own judgements and assessments and act accordingly. But very often the judgements we make are wrong. Proverbs 14:12 is a good reminder of this: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
It is far better to lean on God’s view of life and not our own. Our own view of life will make wrong judgements about people, about circumstances, about life in general and most dangerous of all, about how to get to Heaven. Left to our own understanding we will inevitably think that we can make it on our own. Or we will conclude that it doesn’t really matter what we believe because all roads lead to God anyway! Then on that great day we will prove to be fools. Judgement will show that we leaned on our own way of looking at life rather than on God’s way.
It is far better to “acknowledge him in all our ways”. What does this mean and how do we do it? Well, it means that we reject our own natural tendency to view life as we please and in repentance turn to Him and accept His view of life. In God’s view we are all sinners needing a Saviour. He has provided such a Saviour for us. Furthermore, left to ourselves, we will inevitably make wrong decisions – so He has given us not only a Saviour but also His own word to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. To acknowledge Him thus means that we accept His opinions and views about all things. In all our decisions we want to know what will please Him most? What will reflect His wisdom, kindness and compassion? What will bring Him glory? Then we act accordingly. It is true that sometimes making decisions based on our relationship with God, rather than on the accepted wisdom of the age, may bring confusion upon us and it may displease many people. But the Proverb goes on to say: “He will make your paths straight”. In other words, no matter how many oppose you or ridicule you in the end you will be vindicated. Your paths will be straight i.e. without difficulty, disharmony, guilt or any of the things that come upon those who have no time for Christ and His opinions.
Most important of all is that if we acknowledge Him, we will acknowledge His value that He places on His Son and we will turn to Jesus as our only Saviour and our safe guide to the Glory to come.
Prayer: “Almighty God, Please forgive the tendency of my heart to act without you. Help me always to consider you in all of life and seek always to live acknowledging you and your ways in all things. Amen”