“For as he (a man) thinks in his heart, so he is…” Proverbs 23:7 AMP
The Hebrew here literally means as a man reasons and calculates, those things that he spends time pondering and thinking about, meditating and even worrying about – it is those things that will consume him, it is those things that will overtake and devour his life – become the reality of his existence. This has both positive and negative potential application and we need to be cognizant of both sides of this spiritual law in our lives because we are the ones in control of whether we will walk in God’s blessings or destroy ourselves through unbelief and disobedience.
I am right now in a spiritual conflict in which, I will admit, the enemy has been putting me on my back repeatedly. Attitudes, turmoil, and strife - all of these have been surfacing regularly and I can’t seem to get the upper hand no matter how hard I try. I’ve been feeling the old axiom “one step forward two steps back” for some time now and it hasn’t been the “I’m a little off today” kind of conflict. It’s affecting my relationships, my family, my walk with my Father, my demeanor. Others are noticing and people are commenting. Frankly, I’m embarrassed. I’m supposed to be “Christian-guy” ; “On-fire-for-the-Lord-Fella” ; “Model-Husband” ; “Good-Father” ; “Man-with-God’s-vision-for-his-life”. Right now that vision is murky, I’ve been everything but model for some time, and most days I don’t even want to be around other people.
What happened? Did I “burn out”? Admittedly, there have been amazing changes in our lives in the past 8 months. You don’t initiate the adoption of a “special needs” four-year old with a history of severe abuse and neglect and not have it alter your life in some way. Yes, my job has intensified in pressure and demands fairly significantly in recent months. Yes the economy is going down the toilet and costs are rising affecting our home budget. Oddly (of course) family interactions have been resurfacing in hurtful ways as well. But these are all exterior things. Was my walk with my Lord so shaky that I faltered so quickly? “For as a man thinks in his heart, so he is…”
My problem has never been that of a lack of effort. I have been putting out more effort in more directions than I’ve ever considered possible by myself or most humans, and now, I sit here some months later an exhausted shell, numb and desiring to withdraw. No, my problem is a lack of focus, a lack of wisdom – of putting first things first.
When we fill our hearts/minds with the problems of our lives and this becomes the sum total of what we are acting on, then we’ve already lost the game called life. And the enemy will insure that there is more than enough to fill and even overflow our minds to the point of creating a dizzying array of issues that keep us leaping from one fire to the next trying to play “catch-up” as we endeavor to control all of the issues in our lives. When we enter this arena – we are lost because this is his territory, his chaos, his game and he masterfully manipulates the outcome to his advantage and victory every time because it is our limited flesh and intellect against his timeless spirit and knowledge of the ages.
However, when we do as the Lord tells us further down in this same chapter – the game changes to a whole new venue with a whole new set of rules.
Verse 12 “Commit yourself to instruction, listen carefully to words of knowledge”
Verse 17 “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long.”
Consider also Psalm 119:11
“I have hidden your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you.”
In this arena, the enemy is defeated. In this arena, regardless of exterior circumstance and external attack, we draw upon a wellspring of strength that is mightier than everything Hell has in its combined arsenal. But this arena begins by what is pondered and meditated upon in the mind and heart. For we know that what ever is dominant in the heart is that which will come forth from the mouth and it is with the mouth that we speak the Word of Faith. Our tongues are always speaking faith – it is constantly rolling from our lips in one of two forms; that which produces life, or that which destroys it. This is why James goes to great lengths to warn us of the tongue’s potential for destruction in James 3.
Where I fail to focus, to meditate, on what God’s Word says about my circumstance instead of what the enemy has convinced me about it, this is when I lose power, lose victory over the circumstance, disengage the power of God to work supernaturally in my circumstance to bless me and make a show of the enemy. You can’t sow doubt, discouragement, and unbelief into the circumstances of your life and expect to harvest a victory. This doesn’t mean you deny the existence of your circumstance. But we DO deny our circumstances’ right to rule and proclaim the Word over them.
For me, and for all of us, it’s a heart condition – the Word has to be in my heart. The Word has to be active and alive in my heart, discerning the thoughts and intents as stated in Hebrews 4:12. For my heart, not my exterior circumstances, determine my quality of life, my relationships, my capacity to love like God loves and fulfill his plans and will for my life. My heart determines my reality.