Friday, October 28, 2022

Positioning Your Heart (Proverbs 23:12)

 “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.” [‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23‬:‭12‬, ‭ESV‬‬]

How does one go about becoming wise? How can he increase his knowledge? How can he gain understanding? I think that most people would desire to understand more, to be wiser, to be more intelligent, and to be more educated. Why then are most of us not growing in wisdom and understanding?

The Bible tells us that God is the ultimate Source of all wisdom, and that, by seeking Him, we seek to gain wisdom. Of course, not all wisdom comes from God. How can God be the ultimate Source of wisdom when there is wisdom that does not come from God? Because the wisdom that is not from God is not very wise at all. James 3:14-16 describes the kinds of wisdom that are "earthly, unspiritual, demonic". In James 3:17, we are told what wisdom from God looks like. I have written about James 3:17 before (it is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible), but I have yet to write about James 3:14-16. In the future, I will write dedicated essays for each passage, respectively. For now, suffice it to say that the wisdom of the earth is that which breeds division, anger, hatred, jealousy, and sin.

Back to the verse that this essay is about, let us ponder the meaning of the text. If we look at the surrounding verses, we see more about wisdom, how to cultivate wisdom, and what wisdom looks like. The book of Proverbs is about wisdom, so it makes sense that the majority of the book is about wisdom. The verse we are talking about today is its own statement, rather than being a statement that is broken up into two (or more) verses. As a result, there is room to debate the meaning of this verse. However, this is my essay, it is published on my website, and so I will write about what this verse means to me. :)

"Apply your heart to instruction..."

The first part of the verse tells us exactly what we are supposed to do: apply our hearts to instruction. The issue is that the meaning of "apply your heart" is not clear for everybody. The Bible describes the heart as an inner representation of a person's desires, character, and motives. Just as in water face reflects face, so does the heart of man reflect the man. When our heart is evil, our speech is evil, our thoughts are evil, we delight in evil, and everything we do we do for the sake of evil. When our heart is godly, our speech is godly, our thoughts are godly, we delight in that which is godly, and we do everything for God. When we apply our hearts to instruction, we are setting our hearts, and thus our minds, thoughts, and desires, on the gaining of knowledge and growing of our wisdom. By seeking instruction, we will learn what to do.

"...and your ear to words of knowledge."

Just as we are to set our hearts on instruction, so too must we set our ears toward words of knowledge. It is no secret that what goes in our ears will manifest itself in our mind, our speech, and our desires. Therefore, by setting our ears towards words of knowledge, we will hear knowledge, gain knowledge, and become wiser. The issue that keeps so many people from gaining wisdom and knowledge is not that there is not more to learn, nor is it that wisdom and knowledge are hidden. Proverbs 1:20-21 tells us how wisdom shouts in the streets, trying to get our attention. Wisdom is not hidden at all. In fact, wisdom is so plentiful that it is shouting at each of us, begging us to take heed. It is only when we set out to gain wisdom and knowledge that we are able to hear the call of wisdom.

If you want to gain knowledge, gain wisdom, and grow in your understanding, you must position yourself accordingly. Set your heart on instruction, set your ears toward words of knowledge, and know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. When you seek God, when you seek His wisdom, He will reveal Himself and His wisdom to you.

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