I trust myself. A lot. This occurred to me afresh awhile back while I was out running. As I prepared to cross the street, in a familiar neighborhood, I surprised myself by not even looking to see if there was a car coming. This is because, as I reasoned to myself, I would hear a car coming if it was nearby.
We can debate the wisdom of this type of road safety skills (and I’ll probably join you in saying it’s unwise). However, it is illustrative of the commonly experienced bigger truth that we do trust ourselves. We have to. We make quick decisions based upon quick glances from our eyes. We answer questions quickly and confidently. We anticipate and react. And, by in large, we are pretty good with our ability to make these decisions.
This is why a passage like Proverbs 28.26 is so repulsive to our self-sufficiency and personal goodness:
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26)
What the Bible is not saying is that you can’t trust yourself to observe whether a car is coming and it is safe to cross. Of course you can do this. However, what it is getting at is the fact that fallen humanity, sinners, are inclined towards foolishness rather than wisdom.
In fact, the entirety of the book of Proverbs is arguing for people to give ear to wisdom instead of foolishness (cf. Prov. 4). In chapter 9 you have Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly (a kind name for a bad lady) calling out from opposing sides of the street, as it were. Where will you go? What will you do? Don’t go the way of folly. Get wisdom! (cf. Prov. 4.5-9).
What does it mean to walk in wisdom? At the heart of it is the submission of one’s mind, heart and life to the Scriptures.
In a familiar verse we read:
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.Be not wise in your own eyes;fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.It will be healing to your fleshand refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
This leads to the keeping of one’s heart.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
And how do you do that? Right before this we read:
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:20-22)
And what does it look like?
Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:24-27)
No matter how well we do in the day to day tasks, if our minds are our ultimate governors then we are nothing more than fools. But, if we are being governed by Lady Wisdom, and in fact, wisdom incarnate (Col. 2.3), the Lord Jesus Christ, then we are walking in wisdom.
No doubt you can sense the same burden from Paul in the New Testament (Rom. 12.1-2) as Solomon in the Old that believers would be bathing their minds in the Scriptures so as to transform hearts and minds by and through the Word. Do you share this burden and priority?