These messages are all around us, sometimes coming more subtly than others. They usually come in a pretty convincing package, whether through songs on TV or pretty fonts on Instagram. I heard it as my boys watched a cartoon, “Trust in yourself, Vampirina, and you’ll be a great ballerina.” A quick Pinterest search will show this message is thrown at us adults too, with quotes such as, “Girl, trust yourself,” or “Trust in yourself and do what your heart is guiding you to do.”
Dear Christians, with every message the world sends, we must immediately ask, “What does the Bible say?” The Bible has a lot to say about our hearts and who we should trust in, but for now, let’s start with these verses…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
Never does the Bible tell us to trust in ourselves or follow our hearts. Instead, the Bible commands us to trust God and tells us our hearts are wicked. Truthfully, the world’s messages exhaust me. It’s a pull yourself up by the bootstraps and rely on yourself kind of message. When I try to lean on my own understanding, that’s when I complain, worry, and lose unnecessary sleep. That’s because it’s not God’s good design for us.
When Adam and Eve sinned in Eden, everything was put under a curse (Gen. 3:14-20). We’re now all born sinners (Rom. 3:23), so everything, including our hearts and our understanding is tainted by sin. In and of ourselves, we aren’t trustworthy. We work hard to build our own kingdoms instead of God’s. We worry over things, though God commands us not to. We’re selfish, instead of looking to the good of others. Our hearts deceive us, and we wrongly justify sinful actions.
While this seems pretty grim, Jesus brings hope. The world tells us to save ourselves, but Jesus makes it clear we can’t. Jesus is the way, truth, and life, and the only way to the Father is through him (John 14:6). When we really think about it, the world’s message is hopeless. However, Scripture is full of hope, hope we anchor our souls on (Heb. 6:19).
The beauty of the Gospel is when we’re saved, WE GET GOD! Let me repeat that. God gives us himself! There’s literally no better gift. When we enter into a relationship with Christ, we now submit to his lordship. I know, the world turns its nose up at that submission word, which is why it sends messages so counter to Scripture. Friends, submission to Christ’s lordship is what brings us true freedom and joy! We don’t have to trust in ourselves because we get to trust in our good Father who loves us more deeply and personally than we can imagine. We don’t have to rely on our own strength, because the Almighty strengthens us. We don’t have to follow our hearts, because the Holy Spirit indwells us to guide, convict, encourage, and comfort.
The world throws a lot of burdens on us, telling us all we need is ourselves. Dear friends, the only thing we really need is to trust Jesus. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Trusting Jesus is a beautiful thing. True strength and joy lie when we trade our pride for dependence on the One who sustains us. Indeed, rest is found when we stop relying on ourselves and start relying on Jesus.
This call to trust Jesus instead of ourselves is much easier said than done. As humans, we like the feeling of being in control. When life’s unknowns arise, we want to trust in ourselves and take things into our own hands. We grow impatient waiting for God to act (our adoption journey has revealed this so much in me), but we must preach the Gospel to ourselves. We remember who God is – that he’s faithful, sovereign, knows all, and much more. God will never act in a way contrary to his character, so we can always trust him.
What’s wonderful about God, is he doesn’t leave us to ourselves to walk this Christian life. He knows we struggle to trust him, we want independence, and whatever our hearts feel sounds pretty good in the moment. This is why he equips us with His Spirit, His Word, prayer, and the local church. We need to be actively using these wonderful gifts to train our hearts and minds for the glory of God! Dear friends, let’s trade the messages and burdens of this world for the truth of Scripture. As we hear messages that point to ourselves, let’s point to God instead. As our children and others we disciple hear these messages, may we point them to our God, the One who is trustworthy and faithful, and the only one who can turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.