“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)
“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:1-3)
Do you ever tell someone, “I am going to come?” Of course you do, and it’s entirely logical. In other words, we are planning to come (to an event or meeting). When you read the two passages above, did they seem to contradict each other? The two passages for our consideration today seem to oppose each other, but they do not. In Proverbs 21:2 Solomon states that the plans we make look right to us, as does our conduct. We are right unless proven wrong, that is, we are innocent until proven guilty. At least that is the way the world operates, and we do outside of the holiness of God.
The phrase “in his own eyes” alerts us to the problem and reminds us of the Israelites during the age of the judges when everyone “did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:7; 21:25). Proverbs 16:1 picks up on this idea, stating that our plans belong to us and that our ways are pure in our own eyes. But the biblical truth is that we are all guilty until our case is dismissed by God through the spent blood of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Only Jesus can prove our innocence, and only God can accurately judge our hearts and spirits. When the Holy Spirit operates in our hearts, we see our guilt and come under conviction of our impurity. In his mercy, God then turns our hearts, ways, and plans to his. The scales of justice are not balanced but in the best possible state of imbalance, as Christ’s weighty mercy throws us high in the air, like a seesaw with an adult on one side pitching the little child up higher than she ever imagined she could go, to her delight.
But how can we find this freedom to rise so high above our natural state when we unquestionably assume that our plans and ideas are right? The answer is found in Proverbs 16:3. If we have made a commitment to Jesus-to work for him, serve him, and live for him-then God will establish our plans. He will bring the intentions of our hearts into reality through his power because our hearts are united to his. God will omnipotently work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). When we speak, it will be as if God is speaking for us, on our behalf, with our agreement. When we work and minister, it will be because God is working in us.
Are you aware of the plans of your heart, or are you feigning naiveté? “If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:12)