All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. (Proverbs 16:2)
We pursue what we think is best in our lives. If something is not right, we will only do it when we convince ourselves that the short-term gains are worth it. Overall, we order our lives according to what we think is best, or the highest good. But, as we realize through the prophet Jeremiah’s guidance, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). We struggle to know ourselves and to accurately weigh our pursuits and desires. It is only by God’s grace that we can accurately see and know our ways.
And so, there are two ways forward. The first is the way of humility. In this way, we invite God, who weighs the spirit, to make known to us the rightness or wrongness of our ways. This is the way the psalmist takes in Psalm 139, where recognition of God’s ultimate knowledge leads to a request for insight:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)
The way of humility is marked by openness, confession, and a willingness to change. We have openness to what God may speak. We take up the practice of confession to identify our sin before God and to be willing to transformed before God’s word. We hold our lives before God, knowing that the life with God is always growing, developing, and changing for God’s glory.
The second way is the way of pride. In this way, we resist God’s revelation about our life’s way. We choose to harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and prompting. Instead of confession, we suppress God’s word and work, seeking instead to give full rein to our desires. It is here that our resistance will lead to a great revelation of our wrongs either in our earthly life or, ultimately, at the end. Jeremiah goes on to tell us:
“I the Lord search the mind
and try the heart,
to give to every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10)
Our life is a response to this contrast of ways in every moment. Our life is made of the many decisions and actions we take each day. Will we take the way of humility or the way of pride?