This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8
This passage of scripture is very straightforward and helpful to me. It is an emphatic reminder of what the necessary choices are in every situation and the consequences of each choice. My human nature inclines me to paint every choice with myriad complications, but the Word teaches me that the issue is much simpler: do I trust in man (myself or others) or in the Lord?
I feel the pull of the Fall that whispers that the strength of men is the only realistic strength. That strength includes such things as that which makes sense to my little brain, conventional wisdom, the values of popular culture, and the irrefutable authority of the internet. Ignorance feels validated by company. But my redeemed soul responds to the Word that reveals my all-wise, faithful God and exhorts me to put the whole weight of my trust in Him and His ways. He made the heavens and the earth, He knows the hearts and minds of men, He sees the end from the beginning and He is working His sovereign power to accomplish His purposes. What is conventional wisdom and the internet before Him? Cursed is the one who trusts in man, blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.
The curse of depending on flesh for your strength is not an arbitrary judgment from on high, but simply the natural consequence of expecting something from a source that cannot deliver. Flesh doesn’t have the goods. Mankind and all of our combined resources cannot provide the desired results. Jeremiah says, “…he will not see prosperity when it comes.” I have an image of this from my favorite writer, C.S. Lewis, in his children’s book, The Last Battle. A group of self-sufficient dwarves are thrown into a stable where, they have been told, a grim death awaits them. Instead, when they cross the threshold, they are in a glorious, sun-dappled paradise. Others who had been thrown into the stable along with them walk about on fresh, green grass, marveling at the beauty around them. But the dwarves, so determined to trust in themselves and nothing else, sit huddled together, convinced that they are in the dark and about to be slain at any moment. A feast is spread before them, but though they eat and drink, they describe the fare as rotten vegetables and water from the animal trough. Prosperity came and they did not see it. What prosperity do we miss when we doggedly depend on ourselves or others? For a hint, consider the manifestation of blessing the Lord promises to those who trust in Him. “He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” I sum this up as a steady confidence that is independent of outward circumstances because of reliance on a constant source. It is the “…peace of God, which transcends all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7) It transcends understanding because those who look only at outward circumstances cannot understand it. And those who trust in man, in flesh, can only look at outward circumstances.
So, let’s be those who look at the fundamental choice in all things: who do we trust? All details and all outcomes flow out of that initial decision.