Making decisions and choosing the right paths in life, are daily concerns. If we are not sure how to get God’s direction then we can easily get overwhelmed. The skillful living advice found in Proverbs 16 is a valuable fortune to attain; it holds truth that can help guide us in the right direction, assisting us in avoiding pitfalls that occur when taking the wrong path.
Basically choosing the right paths and or direction in life is a surrender issue.
Verse 9 sums it all up for us,
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Listen to Proverbs 19:21
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.
There are two ways to go about finding God’s direction—both lead to the same ending.
- We can make our plans and take our own steps in pursuing those plans.
- A. We can ask God for His plans and direction. Patiently waiting, relying on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to guide us.
B. We can make plans and submit them to God, asking for His will to be done. Relinquishing our desires knowing His will is best. Also patiently waiting, relying on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to guide us.
No matter which way we go about choosing, or what choice we make—the end result will be the same—God’s purpose for our life will prevail.
I’m half a century old, and believe me I have tried and retried over and over again to make the first way of choosing work—but it never has.
God loves us too much, to allow our plans for our life to supersede His.
This might be frustrating to some people, because they just want to do what they want, but truly God knows the beginning to the end of each situation. He knows how it will start and how it will end and every detail in the middle. He wants the best for us, that’s why He wants us to choose His paths.
Taking our own paths and following our own direction is not only disobedience, but painful. Sometimes after we wake up from a bad choice—be it years, months or days later, we have regret, desiring that we would have listened to God or the good counsel He put in front of us.
I’ll never forget these words; “Careful, that pitfall will cost you two years, oh watch out for that one, it’ll take five years to get out.” They were spoken by an older prophetic gentleman; he was talking about wanting to warn people before they charged through life, not inquiring of God’s direction.
Being a Mom of teens and young adults, I’m constantly reiterating the concept of these scriptures. My kids are visionaries with huge dreams and plans—I love this about them and believe these are God given qualities inherit within them, but that doesn’t mean every idea is God breathed. My advice to them is to submit their plans to God and find out which path He wants them to take. I desire my kids to be discerning of God’s voice and will—this will assist them in not wasting their life getting in and out of pitfalls.
Understandably the desert of some pitfalls are places God allows us to go through, where we can find Him in a new way as we learn life’s lessons, but I don’t necessarily believe they are all God ordained stops in life. We can learn just as much, if not more, by first submitting to the obedience of God’s will. There are huge blessings in seeking, finding and following God’s will.
I had an interesting conversation with a young friend, who told me a story about his relationship with a random girl—now in his life forever. The gist of the story was this; he was reflecting on what he called the ripple effect. He met a girl, knew her only a week or two and had sex with her. He said he didn’t love her, she was not really his type but it had been awhile—so he indulged himself. The relationship, loaded with issues, became one of convenience for both of them—until she got pregnant.
The ripple effect started first by living a casual lifestyle of ignoring God, second by fulfilling the lust of the flesh and having sex outside of marriage. Then pregnancy, it continued with an unwanted dysfunctional relationship, sharing a child, who will no doubt reap the consequences. He sadly said “One bad choice has caused a lifelong ripple in my life.”
Opening one door of self-will, can lead to many other doors that inevitably open more doors— leading to hardship, heartache and wasted time.
Proverbs 16 gives generous advice on this concept, it would significantly benefit us and those we influence, to listen and follow its guidance.
Verse 1—“Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word.” (MSG)
Verse 2—“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart).” (AMP)
Verse 3—“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (NLT)
Verse 5—“The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished.” (NLT)
Verse 7—“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (NKJ)
Verse 9—“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (NLT)
Verse 16—“How much better it is to get skillful and godly Wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (AMP)
Verse 17—“The road of right living bypasses evil; watch your step and save your life.” (MSG)
Verse 18—“First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (MSG)
Verse 20—“It pays to take life seriously; things work out when you trust in God.” (MSG)
Verse 25—“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (NKJ)
Verse 33—“Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say.” (MSG)
The heart breaking ripple effect can be avoided by tucking our self into relationship with God, where we hear His voice, know His will and delight in obedience.
Skillful Living Tools
- A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps
- You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail
- Choosing the right paths and or direction in life is a surrender issue
- Submit plans, ideas and dreams to God, asking for His will to be done
- Patiently wait on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to guide you
- Remember the ripple effect: choices have consequences
- The road of right living bypasses evil
- Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed
- Pride comes before a fall
- God always has the final say
Please be encouraged—skillful living comes by patiently submitting our plans to God before we proceed.
Please share with those who need to live skillfully!
Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page!