There is a practice among Christians - and honestly - I am ashamed to admit that I have followed this practice at times in my life. The practice of which I speak is that of making plans - carrying them out - and then later blaming them on God or on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Let me give you an example of this practice. There was a time when I really wanted to do a certain thing. Over time this plan, which was in my heart, began to dominate my mind and my thinking. One day I decided that I would do it - and honestly - without really taking it to the Lord and seeing if it was His will or not. As "the plans of my heart" continued to be implemented, I would tell people that God had led me to do this - or that the Holy Spirit put this on my heart. Well, as with all plans of men that arise out of their flesh - the plans of my heart crashed and burned. But now my resposne was to tell people God was responsible for leading me into them.
This kind of thing happens again and again in the Christian world. There are people who promise and swear that God is the One who led them into a certain choice or action - when it is pretty clear from a study of Scripture that this choice is unscriptural. I've had people tell me that God was leading them to divorce their wife. I've had young ladies tell me that God was the one who led them to date a non-Christian. They joyfully asserted that God was going to bring their young man to Christ. In the end - someone was converted - but it was not the non-Christian. That is why today's proverb is so important for us to understand.
There are many plans in the hearts of men. These plans reside in a heart that is fallen - and in a heart and mind that desperately needs repentance. As a result, as Paul has said, their understanding is darkened - and they are unable to come to godly decisions. "But I am a Christian," some will assert - as if simply being a Christian guarantees that we will always make decisions in concert with the will of God. The fact is that if we are not renewing our minds with the Word of God we are prone to fatal errors in judgment. The fact is that if we are not denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Christ - we will be sadly mistaken about a myriad of things. The fact is that if we are not trusting in the Lord with all our heart, not leaning on our own understanding - acknowledging Him in all our ways - He will not be directing our paths. The fact is without these things happening daily - and even hourly - we will be directing our own paths. The "many plans" that dwell in our heart naturally - will be what lead us.
The proverb today tells us that it is, "the counsel of the Lord" that will stand in the end. What is the "counsel of the Lord?" In previous posts we have seen that this word "counsel" refers not to advice given that we can either choose to follow or not. It is not just God's opinion on something that we can reject. The word means counsel that is given that is expected to be followed. This is God's Word - the Scriptures - and when God offers His counsel on a matter - that matter is decided. To do anything else is now disobedience and rebellion against God. I know that sounds harsh to our post-modern way of thinking - but what has post-modernism brought us that will stand in the end?
This proverb is kind of a warning to us. The warning is this . . . you have many plans in your heart. This fact is not denied. The problem is that your plans are not guaranteed to stand. They may be good ideas or they may be bad ones. You may even have plans that succeed according to the ways of this present world. But the fact is that the only plans that will stand are God's plans. Nothing else will stand - ever. And please understand that God is speaking on an eternal basis. It is one thing to have our plans blessed in the short term - but quite another for them to be blessed now, and forever more. Psalm 73 speaks of how David saw the wicked prospering and almost lost his faith over it. But then he came into the sanctuary and into God's counsel. He saw that although their plans were doing well for the short term - in the long term there were serious - even infinite problems with their way of living. In the end they were destroyed and consumed. They fell all at once - and there was no recovery for them. Their plans - all those plans that were in their heart - led them to a short term prosperity here and now . . . but to an eternal judgment in the long term because they had no regard for the counsel of the Lord.
Here is a quick way to make sure your plans are blessed beyond the short-term. Consider how your plans will fare at the judgment seat of Christ. Think using the Scriptures. Think and consider your plans with an eternal outlook. I can guarantee you that a billion years into the afterlife - no one will be patting themselves on the back in hell. They won't be joking about how good they had it back during the 60-70 years they were alive and doing their own thing - living according to the "plans that were in their own heart." They won't find it comforting to see how they "outsmarted God" for a few years while they ignored all His warnings about their choices and behavior. What will be of comfort for all eternity is the fact that God's counsel stood - and will stand forever. The plans of His heart will be established and therefore, it is that counsel and those plans that we should seek to know and follow.