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. 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. There are subtle, but impactful examples of the damage done by not understanding our limitations. 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. When this happens 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.
One way to address stress is to embrace the fear of the great God of Heaven who has promised to care for us. Psalm 23:1 teaches that since the Lord is our Shepherd, we have no needs. When we live as though our Shepherd is doing a bad job of caring for us, stress inevitably follows. Our children, who are profoundly influenced by our example, come to know the dangers of stress and the failure of understanding our God-given limitations. Then, they too will be come wise in their own eyes. In humility, teach your children to know their own limitations. Once this happens, they, like us, can know the wonder of the God who has no limitations!