“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:7-8
It’s a bad feeling. That moment when you’ve already taken several bites, and you stop, thinking: “Something doesn’t taste right.” Then, sure enough, you look a little bit closer, or you check the expiration date, and your stomach starts feeling even worse. You can feel the writhing, knotting sensation, and before you know it, that’s the only thing you can think about the rest of the night. It doesn’t matter what else you had planned, or how nice the weather is, you’re not going to be happy. You’re settling in for an evening of grimacing.
God has made us to be integral wholes. One piece of rotten food throws your whole body into a rotten mood. The trouble is, spiritually speaking, we tend to want nothing but rotten food. Maybe we’re not doing things so extremely foolish as to qualify as drinking expired milk. Maybe it’s more like subsisting on pizza, chips, soda, and chocolate. But the final result is the same. We wake up wondering why does my body feel so sluggish, and unhappy, and out of joint? Your body is out of wack. It needs a tune up: sleep, exercise, better nutrition to get into better alignment.
One of the fantastic mysteries of life is that human beings are spiritual beings. We can’t account for all of our decisions or feelings on the basis of mere biological instinct. Love is an easy example. A guilty conscience is another. A lion who has killed an antelope, or just maimed one of his buddies in a scuffle, is not impeded in the slightest from enjoying his dinner.
For us, though, God has so woven the soul into the center of our being that we can feel the lack, or the benefit, of spiritual wholeness on a physical level. So at first glance, this proverb can sound like a simple equation. Do good, and you’ll feel good. Certainly you will probably feel better about yourself if you’re gainfully employed as opposed to breaking and entering. But we can never leave Christianity as a set of moral guidelines for good living. Moralism itself is a form of being wise in your own eyes, and can quickly begin rotting your flesh and bones as you become hardened and entitled.
“God has so woven the soul into the center of our being that we can feel the lack, or the benefit, of spiritual wholeness on a physical level”
Not being wise in our own eyes means looking to and trusting Jesus. On the other hand, being wise in your own eyes means thinking you can cut it yourself, even if that looks like working to follow God’s commands. We can’t cut it by ourselves; we need Jesus. Jesus’ whole ministry was about bringing healing and refreshment. He explicitly comingled the spiritual and physical elements of this ministry, showing how our needs are integrated. When we want healing and refreshment in our lives, we’ve got to go to Jesus. That healing and refreshment flows out of our relationship with him, because he feared the Lord perfectly, and always turned away from evil.