Love and Faithfulness
By Kathryn Cronin
Proverbs 3:3-6 NIV
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I’m an English major at heart, so words and translations have always been fascinating to me. In college, I decided to go about my own work of translation, examining the original German of Franz Kafka’s short stories in order to talk about his view of the artist. By the end, I had a much better appreciation for the work that translators do… and the full knowledge that my two years of high school German was not nearly enough to write about Kafka properly. But it was fun, despite my blundering and complete dependence on Google translate.
I love Proverbs, and these verses in particular for the simple power they convey. Life is simple if you take these words to heart. Love and faithfulness prioritized over success, your character meaning more than your position. In fact, love and faithfulness lead to the greatest position and success there is: favor and a good name from God and man.
I’m also a huge fan of the second part, the line that says, “in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” But this is where my English major mind got piqued. If you’re like me, you’ve also heard this line as “in all your ways acknowledge him.” I began to wonder, which translation was more correct. I like the emphasis that comes with “submit.” Submitting feels weightier than just acknowledging. Researching it though, almost every translation uses some form of acknowledge, remember, think, or know.
This frustrated me at first. Does it not make sense to submit to God instead of just acknowledging what he wants? I’m a black and white person, so it of course takes a little prodding before I remember that, while God asks for our submission, that doesn’t mean we become robots. I remember how, despite asking again and again what I should be doing in the future, God pushes me to think for myself instead of just blindly swallowing an order. It is as if our God knows me too well, my tendency to want to please people, and that my obedience is because of my desire to gain favor rather than flowing from a heart that knows it is recklessly loved.
Maybe God has a different relationship with you, but mine is a constant battle to get directions for my future, when what I should be doing is living my life in partnership with God. Acknowledging, remembering, letting the Word inform rather than dictate my every move. Letting love and faithfulness guide my path instead of success or ambition. How simple, how gentle a yoke, how wise it is to remember that God cares more of my heart than where I go in life.
Discussion Questions: How does God move in your life? How should you be submitting or remembering to acknowledge God’s wisdom in your walk today? How can you partner with God today or in your future decisions?