Fear and Stress: Man has got to understand his limitations

Clint Eastwood may not be your first choice for understanding truth. But there is one quote of his that does resonate with biblical truth. Eastwood says “a man has got to understand his limitations.” Proverbs 3:7 says “don’t be wise in your own eyes.” In other words if you think your own understanding is something you can rely on, you are headed for trouble.

The structure of Hebrew wisdom literature, of which Proverbs is a part, uses a literary device called parallelism to highlight important truths. In this case, being wise in your own eyes is contrasted exercising the fear of the Lord and turning from evil. If you think you can trust yourself, you will not exhibit a healthy fear of God and thus, you will not shun evil. If you are wise in your own eyes you open your self to the opposite of the realities of verse 8. Being wise in your own eyes will lead to a lack of health and nourishment for your body.

There are more than a few ways that this impacts Christians. If a Christian were to drink to excess and drive and get into an accident, this would be one obvious example of the truth of this verse. There are other examples such as out of control anger that leads to physical stress on the heart and central nervous system. But there are more subtle, but just as impactful examples of the damage done by not understanding our limitations as Christians. When I try to do what only God can do, I am being wise in my own eyes. When I worry about how to control things that are in God’s control, I become wise in my own eyes. I fail to understand my limitations and do not fear God. In this case my body reacts to the stress of taking on things which only God controls. Thus, the New Testament commands in the strongest terms that we not worry. (Philippians 4 and Matthew 6)

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