Proverb 22 contains a list of pithy instructions which my Bible calls “Thirty Sayings of the Wise.” The first thing the wise teacher does is plea with the reader to pay close attention and remember what is about to be taught. Next, the teacher states his purpose; and here it is:
I have instructed you today—even you—so that your confidence may be in the Lord. (Proverb 22:19, HCSB)
It seems so simple and straightforward, but there’s a reason God inspired the writer to include this reminder for us. Genuine, godly instruction is to always point us back to God. It is only in Christ that we have confidence for today and for eternity.
Yet so much of today’s instruction, including teaching within some churches, points the learner in different directions. Some popular teachers would have their listeners place their confidence in them as the instructor. But the error I see more frequently is the type of instruction that leads people to place their confidence in themselves. If they make these seven changes, or follow this simple three-step program, they can overcome X, Y, or Z.
Please don’t get me wrong, God can help us overcome things which need to be changed. However, if the means to that change is primarily through US pulling up our own bootstraps, can I gently ask, aren’t WE the reason we’re in that mess to begin with? Why would we look to ourselves to fix messes of our own creation?
No, I believe the far better instruction is the one that leads us to a greater dependence upon the Lord. In Him are found perfect wisdom and strength – wisdom to avoid perils in the future; strength to overcome troubles today. You were created by Him to live in dependence upon Him – don’t listen to anyone who tells you to go it alone.
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