He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat.
The use of the word ‘fat’ in this proverb in the KJV is rather interesting, not to mention challenging. I am already thinking of the larger people at church and having difficulty in relating their physical size to their faith. The other thought that crosses my mind is that not getting physically fat is a daily battle in middle age. While my mind tells me I can eat the things I did when I was younger, my body refuses to process the incoming delicacies at the speed it used to. So I am trying to eat better and less, and exercise more.
But this proverb is not about physical size. It is simply differentiating between those of us who think we have reached the point where our own resources are sufficient, and those of us who know that we have to life our lives totally reliant on God. Jesus said; “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Acknowledging that we are spiritual tadpoles puts us in a place where God can begin to work in our lives. That requires trust. When we find ourselves able to trust God, we start to grow, or get fatter in Him.
Problems occur when we think that we can do life without too much reliance on God. Our hearts may not become instantly proud, but bit-by-bit we start to switch off from God as we look to ourselves rather than to God. John Eldredge, in his book ‘Beautiful Outlaw’ talks about a time when family and friends were urging him to take a sabbatical because of his physical and emotional condition. When John Eldredge finally came to Jesus for a solution Jesus told him there was just one problem that needed to be resolved: “You don’t look to Me – you look to yourself.”
John Eldredge writes: “The truth of it was indisputable the moment Jesus finished speaking. All the years of striving, sacrifice, loneliness, heroic exertion – so much of what I took to be noble about my life was suddenly exposed as godless self-reliance.” That sort of sums up this proverb. Proud hearts, self-reliance, call it what you will – it all leads to difficulties and strife. When we learn to look to Jesus instead of ourselves then He will anoint us, equip us, and bless us according to His will for us. And the word ‘fat’ will come to have a new meaning.