An Open Heart and Mind - Part 1- Proverbs 1:33

An Open Heart and Mind – Part 1

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” – Proverbs 1:29-33 ESV

There are passages in scripture that I always try to apply 100% to other people. I don’t like to shine the light of awareness into my heart to see if there is a shred of reflection in me. The passages in Proverbs that deal with sinners or the unwise are often in this category. I’m a child of God, and I’m good. Therefore, this is not me ever, under any circumstances. It’s only those bad people, over there, far away from me.

How I wish this was true! No matter how long we’ve walked with the Lord, we will always have areas that the Lord wants to shine a light onto and show us how we can learn to let go of pain and self and be transformed to look more like Him. Proverbs 1:29-33 is one that often contains little bits of truth that we can turn over to the Lord for cleaning. Verse 29 uses the pronoun they which refers to simple ones or fool from earlier in the chapter (v. 22). Now the Lord is getting to specifically what the trouble is and what the consequences will be.

They Hated Knowledge

The first aspect that we’re warned about is hating knowledge. It doesn’t talk about people who didn’t have a chance to learn or who were apathetic about learning. It’s referring here to people who hated it. Hate connotes not only avoiding it, but actively working against it.

Knowledge is defined as awareness of facts, or familiarity with circumstances, events or subjects.[1] So, those who are actively working against that choose ignorance of facts or circumstances. They don’t know and they don’t want to know and they are going to stop you from helping them to see.

Knowledge can sometimes refer to what we refer to as traditional education, but it can be encompassing more than that too. Knowledge is what we need to have to help our families and our friends. Knowledge gives the ability to do well at our jobs, or to provide help to others. We gain knowledge in any area that we choose to become aware of and learn from.

For us as Christians, we need to ask ourselves in what areas of our mind are we walking away from an awareness that the Holy Spirit is trying to bring to us. Are there subjects that we don’t want to bring up because we are afraid of what we’ll have to face? Are there situations that we only go emotionally in and not mindfully in?

One defense that we bring up in this area is what psychologists would call confirmation bias. Basically, when we want to hear a certain thing, we seek out people and information that support the idea that we already have. Confirmation bias doesn’t want to hear that there might be other things to learn or that we might be missing certain pieces of information. We want to hear what we want to hear and we dismiss or fight against anything else.

We can’t be changed when we are fighting against an awareness or knowledge. Change is a multi-step process and one of the key ones is the ability to see the difference between where we are and where we need to be. Confirmation bias always breaks that step because we are pursuing information that keeps us where we are. In fact, we don’t even want to listen to anything that would show us as being wrong.

[This is part 1 of 4 covering Proverbs 1:29-33. ]

References

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/knowledge?s=t


Slow and Steady Wins the Race - Proverbs 19:2

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. – Proverbs 19:2 ESV

Proverbs has many tidbits of wisdom that are packed full of good ideas. These verses aren’t simple steps to apply to life, however. They are sometimes cloaked in phrases that seem vague or impractical. While at times it might be frustrating, it is part of the wisdom of the book to make us be the ones that learn what they mean and practice finding ways to apply them to our lives.

There are two pieces to this proverb which, at first glance, may not seem to even correlate. The first piece is about desire and knowledge, the second is about haste. Nothing in either section even hints at something in the other section. Instead of looking at them separately, we need to dig into what implied truth has them linked. What can we take away from joining these two ideas that we can apply to living wisely?

First, let’s look at the opening half: “Desire without knowledge is not good.” When I stop to think about this one, it seems odd to me. I don’t equate desire and knowledge on any level at all. To me desire is a feeling or an emptiness that I’m wanting to fill. Knowledge is something that is in my head, or an intellectual awareness that may or may not change my feelings about anything. Yet, this proverb says that the very disconnect I’m defining these by is not good.

The kind of desire that to me is the most brainless, is the kind that is a gut reaction. I’m thinking of times when I’ve seen something or heard something and it brings up in me an intense emotion of desire. To use a culturally relevant example, think about seeing a picture on your Facebook feed of an acquaintance on a beautiful beach or other exotic location. Have you ever had a moment when you reacted with a deep desire to be there or have what they have? How about window shopping, in person or online, where you see a picture and suddenly want it even though you know you don’t need it?

In all those examples, the desire is wanting something that you don’t know context about or have even space for in your life. Desire like that can take us away and cause us to run after things that aren’t important or beneficial to us. That is the desire without knowledge.

The opposite of “desire without knowledge is not good” would be “desire with knowledge is good”. Sometimes after we’ve talked about desire and how it affects us, the feeling or idea left behind is that we should somehow stop desiring things. Just like the above example of wanting the exotic vacation based on seeing a picture, it’s not about not wanting a nice vacation. It’s about finding an understanding of your vacation situation and desiring that. Maybe you’ve got a trip planned soon; maybe you can’t see the next vacation through all the bills. Either way, learning to desire what is helpful for you and your situation. When you’ve accepted that and have thought about it and learned to desire that, you’re in a good place. (PS: If you still are wanting the cool vacation even after this, you might be dealing with envy. That’s also bad, but a topic for another post.)

Now let’s dig in on the second half, “whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” This is another phrase similar to, “Haste makes waste.” In other words, hurrying up makes us slip and fall. We fall down when our feet are moving faster than our eyes are seeing. The word haste doesn’t just mean moving fast; it means moving excessively fast. It’s about going quicker than your abilities can support.

The opposite of missing due to haste would be staying on the path by moving at a reasonable speed. IT doesn’t mean that you can’t push your abilities to their max or that you shouldn’t try to better yourself. It’s not about avoiding mistakes or never falling down. It’s about finding a speed that allows you to see where you’re going in life and keep your feet moving on the straight and narrow.

Both of these truths are fantastic on their own, but in these passage their linked. What is the implied truth between thoughtful, aware desires and keeping our speed in line with our abilities? The truth is this, if you want to run faster than you’re able and get distracted from the path you were created to walk on, the quickest way to the end is to desire things that you know nothing about.

Our ability to stay focused on walking the walk we were created to walk hinges on our ability to be aware of what we want and why we want it. Again, it’s not about not wanting things. We’re not being asked here to give up any form of desire. We’re being asked to understand our heart and our motivation. If we don’t, the consequences of that will pull us away from our purpose and cause us to stumble. God has a plan for you days, stay with Him; it’s worth it!


 

Foot Notes

[1] https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-proverbs