Preached by Dr. Robert F. Browning
Calvary Baptist Church
April 28, 2019
Recognition of Calvary’s Graduates from College and Graduate School
Proverbs is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I suppose this is because I value practical advice packaged in a few words. Proverbs has more pithy quips and quotes than Poor Richard’s Almanac(k).
Proverbs is a collection of writings by Israel’s wisest leaders. Much of it is attributed to Solomon, and he was responsible for portions of this book but certainly not all of it. This encyclopedia of sound advice was not written until after Solomon died, perhaps as many as three to five hundred years.
The fourth century Christian scholar and biblical translator, Jerome, is credited with giving Proverbs its name. In the Vulgate, he gave this book of Wisdom literature the Latin name, Proverbia. The Vulgate is the Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments.
The purpose of Proverbs is to help people become wise and godly. It is a combination of riddles, lists, admonitions, imperatives, parables, poems, songs and sayings dealing with human behavior and social concerns.
It is from this rich repository of righteousness that I choose my word for our graduates this morning. This word is TRUST.
Niki Hays, our Minister to College Students and Young Adults, asked our graduates to select a word that reflects their hopes, dreams or feelings as they embark on their new journey after college or graduate school. Each graduate’s word was shared with us this morning as he or she was introduced.
Niki, in turn, selected a word for them to pack in their suitcases as they head in new directions. Her word was GRACE.
I appreciated what she had to say to our students about seeing others and even themselves as God does, as beloved children in need of companionship, encouragement, assurance, confidence, comfort, patience, understanding and forgiveness.
I’ll follow up Niki’s grace-filled words with a word about TRUST. It comes from Proverbs 3:5-6.
“TRUST in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Why is it so important our graduates, as well as all of us, heed this advice found in Proverbs? Why the demand we trust God with our future?
Solomon and the other contributors to this book were convinced God was trustworthy, and it was in their best interest to draw close to God and to follow where he leads. They based their advice upon God’s nature and character.
They believed God cared about what God created. God was not distant and remote but actively engaged in the affairs of his children.
They believed God wanted the best for everyone in the world he created. God wanted every person to achieve his or her potential and to use their skills, talents and abilities to make the world better for all people.
They believed God’s way of thinking, living and behaving was best. God’s way of arranging values and priorities, relating to others, resolving conflict, using resources and handling problems, challenges, struggles and temptations was always in their best interest and the welfare of those around them.
They believed God would never deceive or mislead them. At all times and in all places, God could be trusted to lead them in the right direction.
They believed God, unlike others who loved them, would always be with them and accompany them on every step of their journey. Never would they be outside of God’s sight or heart.
For these reasons, Proverbs 3:5-6 plays a prominent role in the book of Proverbs. No advice was more important than this. Let’s take a few moments to look at each part of this forceful admonition.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
The key word in this first portion is ‘all’. We are to place our confidence in God totally, completely and with an unwavering loyalty.
This is not hard to do when life deals us a good hand. It is much more difficult, however, to trust God when our hearts are troubled, restless or broken.
This will demand the best of us and from us. Our faith will need to be as strong as Solomon’s and grounded in God’s nature and character as was his. We, too, must believe that at all times God can be counted on to be faithful and reliable.
Lean not on your own understanding.
This is not meant to undermine or minimize our ability to think for ourselves. It is, however, a way of reminding us of the importance of being good listeners with humble hearts who desire to learn from God and those who seek to honor God with their words and works.
“My own eyes are not enough for me. I must see through the eyes of others,” wrote C. S. Lewis in An Experiment in Criticism.
We should never consider ourselves the highest source of wisdom and authority. We have far too many blind spots to succumb to this faulty way of thinking.
In all your ways acknowledge him.
Again, the operative word in our text is ‘all’. The thought of God should never be limited to special seasons or sacred spaces. Every decision, large or small, should be made in light of God’s wisdom and will. The One whose thoughts and ways are higher than ours should be our closest counselor and confidant.
What if we aspire to this high level of commitment and loyalty to God? What will be the result of trusting God everywhere every day in every circumstance?
According to Solomon, God will direct our paths. God will walk with us as we move into the future, providing what we need to face each stiff challenge and to accept every golden opportunity.
This is my prayer for each of our graduates as they leave the familiar surroundings of their college campus and embark on the next leg of their remarkable journeys. I would also like to encourage every member of Calvary Baptist Church to join me in praying for these wonderful students who chose us as their spiritual home away from home. I can think of no finer gift we could give them.