Heavyweight Battle:  The Brain Versus the Heart

Proverbs 7-9

Proverbs 7 25 NIV sgl

We have already covered the first six chapters of Proverbs and they all center around wisdom.  We are now moving on to chapters 7 through 9, which focus on……..drum roll please…….wisdom.  Wisdom must be really really important.  Proverbs 8:19 says wisdom is better than pure gold and Proverbs 8:35 says those that find wisdom find life and obtain favor from the Lord.  Wisdom is clearly something everyone should have and use, but why do so many people come up short in this area?

Where is wisdom stored?  In the brain.  Wisdom is the ability to process information correctly and that is all done in the brain.  Many people actually have a pretty good brain that correctly tells them the difference between right and wrong, but they do not always follow the right path because of the brain’s nemesis, the heart.  We have many sinful desires in our hearts because we are selfish beings.

There are some people that have evil desires in their heart and their brain is lacking wisdom, so they are going to struggle in life until they search out some wisdom.  They will always do the wrong thing because their brain and heart are in agreement and working together.  They can accomplish a lot together, but none of it is good.

The rest of us are in another group that are wise enough to know something is right or wrong, but struggle to always do what is right because of our heart’s selfish desires.  That is called temptation and we all have it.  When temptation arises, our heart and mind go in to battle.  Our heart has two main tactics in this fight.  First, it may try to get us to ignore what our brain might say about the sin.  Second, it sometimes engages the brain and tries to convince the brain that the sin is ok.  This is called justifying the behavior.  The heart is very strong and can be very persuasive.  In order to do the right thing, the brain must be stronger, which is where wisdom comes into play.

The brain must know the difference between right and wrong to stand any chance of beating the heart (don’t be confused here – we still want the heart to keep beating).  That wisdom is found in the Bible and it needs to be searched out, but that is just the start.  If you want to make sure your brain is strong enough to defeat the heart, you can’t just “know” what is right and wrong, you need to “understand” why it is right or wrong.  Understanding comes with a lot of reading, thinking, learning from others, and praying.

Proverbs 7 tells of a story where a man is seduced by a married woman who was not his wife.  He gave in to the temptation because he lacked enough wisdom to fight it.  He probably knew it was wrong, but he didn’t understand all the consequences.  The lost trust and ruined reputation that he may never get back, the pain he caused his family, sexually transmitted diseases, getting the woman pregnant, a broken nose from the husband when he finds out, and the guilt he will feel because he let God down are just some of the reasons why God tells us not to have sex outside of marriage.  Once you take the time to understand why something is right or wrong, the brain will be much more powerful and most likely will win the fight against the heart.

But wait, it gets even better.  When a brain has enough wisdom and understanding, the brain can convince the heart to change its desires.  The heart can be trained to agree with and follow the brain!  This is the ultimate goal, and this is why wisdom is so important.  James 4:2-3 says that you do not have because you do not ask God.  It goes on to say that you do not receive when you ask because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  Simply put, your heart is not right.  So, it stands to reason that if your brain convinces your heart using Godly wisdom, you will get what you ask for because your desires will line up with God’s desires.  In this case, when the brain and heart are in agreement and working together, they can accomplish a lot together, and it is all good.

Rick McClain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+7-9&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 10-12 as we continue seeking God’s wisdom on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Freedom

James 4

James 4 7

Have you ever read or watched a news feed of any kind and thought to yourself, “Wow, why is the world such a messed-up place?” Odds are you have had these thoughts or said this not just once but many, many times! Unfortunately; we live in a world that is covered in disgrace, selfishness, and unkindness. These things become evident as we look at the world around us and wonder at just how far some have fallen. When we ask how the world got this way it is not a new question and it does not require a new answer. It is an answer that James wrote about a long time ago on a continent far far away (sorry, back on target).

In James 4:1 he asks the question, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?” Why are you fighting all the time?!? When he wrote this it wasn’t in the time of instant communication that we have today. He couldn’t use snapchat, private messenger, or even email. Because it would take weeks or even months for responses to go back and forth, he asks the question and immediately supplies the answer. Isn’t it the pleasures that wage war in your members? Have you ever thought of your pleasures as waging war within yourself? If not just think how much you long for the latest and greatest, even when what you already have works just fine. Even more when you go to replace something that is broken.

My phone broke  about a month ago (completely stopped working) and I was faced with the question do I replace it with a new model, attempt to repair the old one, or get a refurbished replacement of the currently broken phone at a fraction of the cost of a newer model. There is a part of me that has always been fascinated with the newest electronics and the new features (after all – I want my phone to be the best, right?). As I was weighing my options I continued to see the latest models waging war against my budget. I reasoned with myself, “It will get updates longer if I get the newer phone, it will have better features.” The fact of the matter is my phone that had just died served me quite well for nearly three years, I know all of its settings and have cases, chargers, and screen protectors that I have already purchased sitting at home. I also get all of these benefits for a quarter to a third of the price. After attempting to have the old phone repaired I finally received the refurbed phone and am quite happy with my decision. All of that to say that I am quite familiar with my desires waging war within me.

He says you lust and envy and it leads you to strife and disagreements, even to murder. He then goes on to say that the only reason you don’t have is that you don’t ask. Jesus said if you seek you will find, we merely have to ask. In verse three we find that just because we ask does not mean we will instantly have the desires of our hearts. If I ask with self-serving motives I will not receive, but if I am needing wisdom to better serve God it will be granted. If I focus my desires and friendship on the world and its pleasures I show myself to be serving stuff, NOT God.

In verses 6 and 7 we find that God gives grace to the humble and we are to submit to Him and His desires because of His mercy and grace. James then says the devil will flee from us if we resist him. That is a magnificent piece of information if you have ever felt tempted to serve your own desires instead of God’s desires!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

Do NOT let yourself fall into the trappings of this world that say you can be a slave to the latest and greatest and still serve God, we can have but one master. Do not be double-minded, only serve the things of God. Philippians 2:3, 4 tell us to treat others as if they are a higher priority to us than ourselves, and verse 5 tells us to have the attitude that was in Christ. It is amazing how much this spirit can set us free from the struggles this world consistently brings about. After all, 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

James also warns us of the arrogance that comes from assuming we know what is going to happen. He reminds us that our lives are in the hands of God. What better place is there to rest?

Let’s rest in His hands and find the freedom that only He can provide!

-Bill Dunn