You are not to be trusted. I may not know you, but I am confident that I can’t be confident in you.
Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. It calls us to place our confidence in God. It leads us to forsake ourselves. Trusting the Lord gets most of the attention in that verse, and rightly so, but we have a tendency to forget that wisdom and to trust ourselves in some circumstances. Many scholars call that “super dumb.”
So, let’s look at not leaning on our own understanding. Here are three reasons you shouldn’t trust yourself.
1. You don’t know most of what you can know.
There is so much information available in the world, and you don’t know most of it. The knowledge is out there, but you don’t have it. If you don’t know that you don’t know most of what you can know, take this short quiz:
- What is the capital is the capital of Uzbekistan?
- What is the square root of 4096?
- Why is there an aurora borealis?
- Who invented power steering?
- Where is the largest sunflower garden?
- How many calories are in a Five Guys cheeseburger?
I don’t want to know the answer to that last question, but I don’t actually know the answer to any of them. And it was easy it was to come up with questions I don’t know the answer to because I don’t know the answer to most questions. Neither do you. How can we trust ourselves when we have such limited knowledge? We don’t know most of what there is to know.
2. You don’t know any of what you can’t know.
As much as we don’t know about what we can know, there is probably even more that we don’t know that we could never know. There are so many things that are simply impossible for us to know.
Next time you are at the grocery store ask yourself this question—“What is happening at my house right now?” You’ll probably have a good guess, but you can’t know for sure if you’re not there. Everything is probably how you left it, but it might be on fire. A pipe might have burst and your kitchen might be flooding. A truck might have just driven into your living room. Let that weird reality sink in. None of us know for sure there is not a truck in our living room when we are shopping for cereal.
We also can’t know what our kids will score on the SAT. We can’t know what our spouse is thinking when they don’t feel like talking. We can’t know when we are going to die. There’s so much we don’t know. There’s so much we can’t know. It is foolish to lean on our own understanding. But, there is one more reason.
3. You’re not honest with what you do know.
This last one is a harder to prove, but I’m hoping you can be honest with yourself just long enough to acknowledge the fact that you are often not honest with yourself. We must not lean on our own understanding because even when we have understanding, which is rare, we often lie to ourselves about it. Sometimes we know deep down that we are wrong, but we keep telling ourselves we are right, right? We are deceitful people and we are best at deceiving ourselves. We convince ourselves we are not as bad as we are, that we are not as wrong as we are, that we are not as weak as we are. Even when we know something we can know, we can’t know that we are really being honest about it.
We cannot lean on our own understanding because we don’t know so much, can’t know so much, and can’t be trusted. Thank the Lord we can trust the Lord. May he lead us to Five Guys.
Brandon Hiltibidal is a husband to Scarlet, a daddy to Ever and Brooklyn, an owner of the Green Bay Packers, and a Discipleship Strategist at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, TN. Follow him at @bmhiltibidal.