In my last post I referenced the importance of thinking and our imagination. In response a friend posted a comment that included the following, “The importance of a sanctified imagination.” I read this comment and it has been with me for days. In our walk with Jesus our thinking is critical, and is highlighted in Proverbs.
In examining this proverb it is important to compare two versions as when most quote it they refer to how we think in our heart.
7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV)
7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you. Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)
The NASB is the more accurate translation. The reference is about our inner thoughts. The word translated as heart in the NKJV is actually the Hebrew nephesh, soul.
Proverbs 23:7 is an important verse that presents an important principle in the context of verses 1-2. The context provides both wisdom and warning, for who of us doesn’t entertain the fantasy of knowing the ‘important’ people? Who would not have his ego ‘stroked’ by their attention? Solomon recognized this.
1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you; 2 And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite. Proverbs 23:1-2 (NKJV)
The phrase ‘given to appetite’ translated more accurately would be ‘ruled/mastered by your soul.’ The word ‘appetite’ is also the Hebrew nephesh, soul. Solomon is saying the degree of control our appetites have over us is connected to how we think. This connection leads us to verse 7 which contains a key idea about the impact of our thought life.
If we focus on a soulish desire to be seen as ‘important’ in the eyes of others we will concentrate on their assessments and this is what we will think about. IF we root our thought life in the renewed and renewing mind of Christ, we will embrace His assessment of us.
The importance of this is found in the word translated ‘thinks’ in verse 7. It is the Hebrew word shāʿar and in addition to referring to our thinking also means to act as a gatekeeper. What Solomon is saying is that the way we think, what we open or close the gate to, determines who we are. Years ago I read something by A. W. Tozer talking about taking responsibility for our thought life. He said, “You may not be able to keep a bird from landing on your head but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.”
Tozer’s idea echoes Solomon. The enemy or our flesh may initiate things in our thought life. Our responsibility is to shoo them away and close the gate.