Proverbs 16:1-3 – “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. 2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives. 3 Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.” NASU
During my years serving as a pastor and traveling in itinerant ministry I cannot count the times I’ve heard someone declare their plans and then asked me to pray for the Lord’s Blessings upon their plans. They did not come and ask me to pray for the LORD’s guidance in formulating those plans but for the LORD’s Blessing as they did what they wanted to do. That can be good or it can be bad depending on the motives of the heart. The tragedy is too often we “Plan then Pray rather than Pray then Plan.”
This passage is easily interpreted to accommodate both views and most assuredly indicates God’s deep interest in our motives and reveals the danger of “being right in our own eyes.” We are instructed in Proverbs 27:1 not to boast about tomorrow because we do not know what tomorrow holds. James gives us clear guidance in James 4:13, “Come now, you who say, today or tomorrow we will go to such and such city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” In the next verse, we read, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while then vanishes away.” In verse 15, he reinforces the directive or Proverbs and the message of our LORD in Matthew to “seek first the kingdom of God…”
I am not a proponent of people spending all their lives trying to discover the will of God and never actually doing anything for the kingdom. I am also not a proponent of making plans without the counsel and guidance of the LORD and then asking God to “Bless our plans.” First and foremost I believe that we should COMMIT TO THE LORD – EVERYTHING! We first commit our hearts to Him and receive His forgiveness and grace. Why do we want to do what we want to do? What is the motive behind our plan(s)?
This passage reminds us of how often we see what we want to do as right. Verse two, “all the ways of a man are clean in his own sight…” I have had people insist that what they wanted to do was moral and virtuous therefore it must have God’s approval and blessing. In some of those cases, it was evident that the motive was not purely pious but driven by a need or desire for recognition and approval. They ways were clean in their eyes, but the motives were less than pure. Unfortunately, man sometimes seeks to earn acceptance and having observed others doing exploits for the kingdom allow themselves to believe that “if only” they did something great they would be accepted, appreciated, respected, and even praised. They have forgotten the heart that John the Baptist expressed, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Our motive and reason for our plans are more important than the plan(s).
When we commit our works to the LORD and allow Him to give the answer and directive, THEN our plans will be established because we are not simply pursuing our own devices but His purposes. The MOTIVE will be firmly rooted in the Heart of God. My prayer and plea are that we SEEK FIRST the heart and mind of God BEFORE we develop our plans. We should earnestly examine our motives before we launch out in our plan(s). I believe in launching out and getting out of the boat rather than being confined in our limitations and reaching out in faith for his limitlessness. I believe in daring to go where we have never gone and do what we have never done, but I strongly caution that we ALWAYS examine our motives and SEEK FIRST the mind of God. I do not suggest that we become hesitant and timid but that we listen and once we have listened LAUNCH OUT in what He has directed knowing that once we COMMIT our works to Him, He will ESTABLISH our plans.
God bless you as you launch out today in that which God has put in your heart!