1 My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; 2 for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being. 3 Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will find favor and high regard with God and people. 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. — Proverbs 3:1-6
Mastering the Art of Living with God
by Karla Worley
Proverbs is a book about how to live with wisdom. The Biblical idea of wisdom is “skill.” Both the Hebrew and Greek words mean a skill acquired by attention and practice. Proverbs 2:1-9 describes this skill as a hidden treasure equal to silver and worthy of pursuit. Think of Indiana Jones seeking lost artifacts or Benjamin Gates pursuing the Declaration of Independence in “National Treasure.” Everything else falls away when we are focused on attaining something so valuable.
Our passage today in Proverbs 3 speaks of that kind of focus. For people who follow God, wisdom means attaining a specific skill: mastering the art of living with God’s expectations. What does He love? What does He hate? What does He want to accomplish? What does He want from us?
I want to suggest to you that becoming skilled at the art of living with God’s expectations requires two things our passage highlights: effort and intent.
Effort: with all your heart
The Bible speaks of loving and obeying God with all your heart (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). God insists on this whole-hearted effort because He knows how easily we are enticed to keep our options open (Deuteronomy 11:13-16). Jesus affirmed that this way of living was the most important thing God requires (Matthew 22:34-38).
Intent: in all your ways
“Be very careful how you live,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:15-17, “not as unwise, but as wise.” That word “careful” means intentional, paying very close attention to what God expects and what God is doing. Jesus was talking about this when He described a narrow gate that leads to life. “The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention” (Matthew 7:13-14). Paul said that if we live with this kind of intent, we will become skilled enough to “understand what the Lord’s will is.”
- An old hymn text says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” How much effort and intent are you giving to trusting God with all your heart? What other options do you leave yourself when you need answers, guidance, or strength? Reflect on this prayer from the Psalms, and respond as God reveals. “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).
- What skill have you mastered? Do you play a sport or the piano? Are you skilled at cooking or gardening? How did you acquire this skill? Did you learn from others? Take a class? Study? Practice? Which of these efforts do you need to apply to living life with God’s expectations? Make a plan to grow in your spiritual skill.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.