Proverbs / chapter 23 (read the chapter)
There were so many references to the heart in this chapter:
- As a man thinks within his heart, so is he. (vs 7)
- Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. (vs 12)
- Do not let your heart envy sinners. (vs 17)
- Be wise and set your heart on the right path. (vs 19)
Of course, when the Bible speaks of the heart, it is referring to the seat of thoughts and emotions—our minds. Verse 7 gives that away, for we know we don’t “think” with our hearts, but our minds.
What we are in our hearts, what we think with our minds is very important. Again, as verse 7 indicated, what we think is what we will become. The thoughts we entertain on a regular basis will become our reality. Jesus said this very thing: “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them . . . The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Matt 15:11, 18-20)
Think thoughts can’t be that powerful? Consider the example of Tom Skultitley, an amateur triathlete who wanted to compete in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, finish in the top ten, and do it all in under ten hours. Of course, he began a grueling training regimen, but the week before the race, he also spent four hours a day visualizing the race and his performance—every detail of the competition. On the day of the race, he finished in 9 hours, 59 minutes, and 37 seconds, and he placed ninth—the highest ranking for any amateur ever in the Ironman Triathlon.
The mind is ultra important. As a man thinks, so he is.
Maybe this is why the Bible places such importance on the mind:
- You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. (Isa 26:3)
- Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom 12:2)
- Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. (Phil 2:5)
- Set your mind on things above. (Col 3:2)
- For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom 8:5-6)
- God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
Make no mistake about it. In the great war we’re caught up in, the battle is for your heart and mind. The enemy wants to corrupt, defile, and skew your thoughts. That’s why Paul said that every thought we had should be taken captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5). Only He is able to transform the heart. Only He is able to renew the mind.
All of God’s saving activity goes straight to the heart of the matter. If there are problems in our thinking, God can straighten them out! So may our prayer today be that of David’s in Psalm 51: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10)