JUDGES 21:25 – In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
THEME OF THE DAY. A GREAT SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE. Today’s scripture is the last verse in the Old Testament book of Judges. It may be the last words closing out a book but it opens a spiritual challenge we will fight until we reach heaven. And that challenge? Relying upon ourselves when it comes to spiritual discernment and spiritual decision-making. In Israel, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” and we are tempted to do likewise way too often.
Few things are more destructive in the Christian life than leaning on one’s own understanding. Many Christians have made emotional and impulsive spiritual decisions that seemed right, but later proved wrong resulting in remorse and regret. Throughout the Bible we are told to avoid any type of self-trust. Here are two references to remind us of this truth. The first one comes from King Solomon – 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). The key word in this text is “all”. This little word means we cannot in any area or for one second trust ourselves in our understanding or feelings. Just because something seems to make sense or feels right does not mean it is from the Lord or right. Why? Because of the second reference telling us to avoid self-trust like the plague. It comes from the prophet Jeremiah – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). We must not trust ourselves because our hearts are as reliable as water. It is deceitful, self-justifying, and beyond understanding. I know it sounds “spiritual” to trust our hearts but it is anything but. It is a recipe for spiritual disaster. So, what are some ways we may be guilty of “doing what is right in our own eyes?” I offer five for our consideration.
We are trusting our own understanding and heart when we make spiritual decisions based on feelings and not the truth of God’s Word. Be careful of being deceived between what is emotional and what is spiritual. Our spiritual experiences with the Lord will contain emotions but feelings are never a reliable guide to decision-making.
We are trusting our own understanding and heart when we look for scripture to fit into our already determined understanding and decisions instead of letting scripture direct our understanding and decisions. This is an easy trap to fall into. We bring our pre-suppositions of what we think the Bible says instead of being teachable and let the Bible speak objectively. Don’t be unteachable when God’s Word goes contrary to our pre-suppositions.
We are trusting our own understanding and heart when we fail to seek godly counsel outside of ourselves and outside of our physical families. Isolating our inputs on making spiritual decisions to ourselves and those who may agree with us due to the closeness of our familial relationships is dangerous. It may build a “fortress” of self-justifying actions never tested against wise and mature counsel from other Christians.
We are trusting our own understanding and heart when we do seek godly counsel but go against the collective and unified counsel we received. Be careful to be a “lone wolf.” If multiple Christians are not aligned with our decisions, we should be slow in implementing the decision. I am not sure it is ever safe to go against a multitude of counselors who love us, wanting nothing but the Lord’s best for us and speak wisdom into our lives.
A final indicator that we are trusting our own understanding and heart is to neglect the gathering together with other Christians and sitting under the preached Word. God has ordained the primary means of discipleship and receiving good counsel is from the public hearing of His Word through His church. To ignore this is to position ourselves into a dangerous position of ignoring His means of grace for spiritual growth and discernment.
God’s people sinned against Him by doing what was right in their own eyes. May the Lord help us to avoid being like them by leaning on His Word, seeking wise counsel, and committing to sitting under Biblical preaching.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to never trust myself but to be constantly on guard against myself.”
QUOTE: “Our hearts are never to be trusted or relied upon to guide our spiritual lives.”