Lean not on Your Own Understanding of Money

by | Dec 1, 2017 | David Appelt

Proverbs 3:5-6 might be the most scribbled-on-greeting-cards verse in the Bible. The danger with familiarity, though, is that it can bring complacency. The more that we hear something the more we can be in danger of letting it flow in one ear and out the other. Consequently, we may love to quote parts of Proverbs three, but we can overlook the different ways that this passage out to challenge us. Proverbs 3 asks tough questions of us. Do we really trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean on His understanding? Do we acknowledge him in all our ways? Do we obey these commands with our wallets as much as we should?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
– Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

If you grew up in the church, you probably know that verse well. What you might not be familiar with, however, is what follows. The passage quickly goes to tie verses five and six with a command to follow God’s instruction.

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh, and refreshment to your bones.
– Proverbs 3:7-8 ESV

Be not wise in your own eyes

Simply put: this verse is commanding obedience to God. Disobedience is when we decide to lean on our own understanding; disobedience is when we don’t honor (acknowledge) Him in all of our ways. Disobedience is when we become wise in our own eyes. Although this passage says it in more poetic language, the main point is simple: trust and obey.

Proverbs three is telling us that we will default to our own understanding in life, and we must work against that default to follow God in all our ways.

Leaning on God’s understanding, even with our wallets

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.
– Proverbs 3:9 ESV

Solomon moves next to the area where we least like to be corrected: our wallets. Much of how we think about money as American Christians comes more from us being “American” instead of us being “Christian.” But what are the traps we fall into? Where do we lean on ourselves rather than God?

We lean on our own understanding when our budgets prioritize our comfort over generosity and God’s mission. Instead of obeying, we fail to honor God in all of our ways by only considering how we want to use our money instead of how God would ask us to use it. Instead of turning from evil and fearing the Lord, we jump into danger by letting our wealth become an idol that creates our sense of safety, security, and happiness.

Do we trust in the Lord enough to say that his commands for money are better than the American dream and a white picket fence? If we honestly look at our budgets, can we say in good conscience that we are honoring the Lord with our wealth?

Do we believe that obeying God with our money will bring a deeper joy than our 401k’s ever could?

If we believe, our budgets and priorities will change.

We need to do more than remember Proverbs 3:5-6, we need to obey 7-9. Christians must put a testimony of God’s grace on display with their actions and wallets. Christians must honor the Lord with our wealth, instead of honoring ourselves. We need to Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. We need to fear the Lord and turn away from the idols. We must honor and acknowledge the Lord in all of our ways–including our wallets. It will be eternal joy to us in the end.

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Recommended Resources

What is wisdom? from RC Sproul and Ligonier
How to know God’s will from John Piper
The Ultimate Disconnect by David Platt
For the Love of Money, for the Love of God sermon from David Appelt
The Message of Ecclesiastes: Wisdom for the successful by Mark Dever

David Appelt serves as the creative arts director at NewLife Community Church in Canal Winchester, Ohio. He graduated from Capital University with an emphasis on Music Ministry. He plans on pursuing pastoral ministry in the future.
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