“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” Proverbs 16:2 (ESV)
Popular songs and greeting cards sometimes express the thought, “You know me better than I know myself.” But it’s a bit of a cliché, isn’t it? Do you really think it’s possible for another person to know you better than you know yourself?
The first half of today’s proverb is a brilliant observation about human beings. “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes.” It is saying: I know my own perspective. I know what motivates me. I do what I think is right. Nobody understands me better than me!
It is not suggesting that everybody sees themselves as perfect and sinless. We understand that we make mistakes and have regrets. But when we hold an opinion, and when we attempt something, there is a reason for it which makes sense to us. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it!
As a result, it can be quite a shock when we come up against a person who thinks very differently, or who opposes what we are trying to do.
This is when it is helpful and empowering to know that there is someone who – all cliches aside – really does know me better than I know myself. The Lord “weighs the spirit”. The paradoxical language here, of God weighing something which to humans is unweighable, expresses just how far his knowledge exceeds ours. He knows my motives better than I do, and he has a perspective on my affairs which encompasses his whole plan for history from beginning to end.
All of this gives us a healthy dose of humility, which should lead us to pray sincerely about everything we attempt.
Heavenly Father, you are the One who weighs the spirit. You truly, all cliches aside, know me better than I know myself. I praise you for this. In all I attempt today, grant me your wisdom, and in your grace, please give me such success as will glorify your Name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.