12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12)
Through the Bible Reading: Proverbs 13-15
Over the years, my wife and I have developed an affectionate code phrase for whenever I do something that is opposite the way she would have done it. Not wrong, just opposite. It could be about how the dishwasher gets loaded, the car gets packed, or which direction to go through a buffet line. Inevitably, the way I go is opposite the way she will go. And she will look at me and roll her eyes and say, “There is a way that seems right to James…”
And every once in awhile, if I’m really feeling myself, I’ll shoot back, “And guess what? It SEEMS right because it IS right!”
Because I can’t be wrong all the time… can I?
Trish, I hope you read this one…
Part of the issue is that I am left handed, and Trish is right handed. So like most left-handed people, I naturally turn left when there is a choice. And Trish naturally turns right. This actually works to our advantage at Disney World, because most people will turn right when they get through the entrance. (You’re thinking about it right now, aren’t you? Like most of the world, you head to Space Mountain first, don’t you?). But not the Jacksons. We go to Pirates of the Caribbean first. We head left. And as a result, we tend to have shorter lines all day long.
It’s not so much an advantage at the Thanksgiving table. When the dishes get passed around the table, I mess everything up. Because going left just seems… right to me. It is my natural inclination.
When it comes to our human nature, our natural inclination is toward sin. It has been that way ever since the Garden of Eden, when the devil convinced Adam and Eve that they didn’t need God to tell them what was right and wrong–they could decide for themselves. (See Day 001: Genesis 1-3).
The Bible consistently reminds us that human nature is bent toward sin. It’s what caused God to decide to destroy the world by flood and start over:
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6)
And again, in Jeremiah:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV
In other words, every Disney Princess is wrong. Following your heart is a terrible idea.
On the other hand, following the Maker of the heart is the way to life and peace. God loves you, and it was never His intention to allow you to just stumble blindly in the way that seems right to you. That’s why early on in Proverbs, the father tells his son,
“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. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV
The way that seems right in our own understanding never is. But God will direct out paths if we recognize His absolute authority to do so. He tells us, in Isaiah:
“and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.””
Isaiah 30:21 CSB