CONTROL OF MIND
Shivraj K. Mahendra
Divine wisdom, vital for our day-to-day life and work, is not acquired in a humanly set time or place. In the same way, Christian maturity and fruitfulness is a life-long process. During the process, as in every stage of our life, we need understanding and wisdom to deal with situations. Proverbs are great sources of wisdom and insights, composed out of life experiences and situations. The Book of Proverbs, compiled during the 10th century B.C. under King Solomon, aims to provide wisdom, understanding and discipline, so that we may be prudent, avoid mistakes, and do what is right and succeed. Part of God's general revelation to humanity, Proverbs teach us the art of living based on the fear of God. They emphasise on the control of mind (heart) as the key to reconciliation - fruitful relationship with our God and fellow beings.
Heart: The Centre of Our Personality
Proverbs 4:23-26 is one of the principal texts in the Bible which presents the importance of control of mind (heart) in the context of building a reconciled personality. Heart is understood variously as 'will', 'mind', 'reason', and 'seat of emotion', or 'seat of knowledge' etc. Both the Hebrew LEV and the Greek KARDIA refer to 'heart' as the seat of 'conscience' and 'moral character.' Apart from a great meaning of the heart, there is a great danger with it. The Bible tells us that, "the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9, NIV). Therefore, apart from admonition to guard our heart (v. 23), we are also instructed (vv. 24-26) to understand and practise at least three essentials that make a reconciled and fruitful personality: integrity, intentionality and intensity.
Integrity: Foundational Factor
Integrity means honesty, uprightness and sincerity. It involves being truthful, reliable and genuine. Integrity is an internal quality with external influence. Proverbs 4:24 is concerned with our speaking, behaviour and manners. The problem in focus here is a masked life, a life with dual personality or double roles. The challenge is to live with integrity and accountability. The solution is a conduct guided by our faith. What we believe and say must be reflected in what we do.
James 3:10-12 is an excellent example of integrity of tongue. James says, "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." Integrity is foundational for a genuine personality.
Intentionality: Directional Factor
Intentionality has to do with having a clear direction. It is concerned with focus, intention, agenda and purpose. Proverbs 4:25 instructs us to be target-oriented, by saying, "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you." The problem so common today is purposelessness, lethargy or aimlessness. The challenge is to fix our eyes and thoughts on Jesus our Lord. The solution is to set specific goal and strive to achieve it.
The book of Hebrews provides us with the best direction. It says, "...fix your thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest whom we confess." So, "let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 3:1; 12:2). Intentionality is essential for a purpose-driven personality.
Intensity: Punctuality Factor
Intensity means the state or quality of being intense. It is the strength of something that can be measured. Intensity thus has to do with the time, utilisation of time, or punctuality. Proverbs 4:26 is concerned with walk or work. It talks about walking straight, about doing things on time. The problem in focus here is misuse of time, of opportunity and privilege. The challenge is to walk straight with punctuality and proper utilisation of every moment. The solution is to redeem the time and make best use of it. In Hebrews 12:11-12 we read, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees." It is often said that an empty mind is a devil's workshop. Intensity in our walk and work saves us from wasting or misusing our time, and helps us to be busy in the things of our vision and call.
Christian life is not an ordinary life. It is a life of commitment and fruitfulness. It is a life of service and sacrifice. It is a life of relationship and reconciliation. It demands a personality full of divine wisdom. It requires a character that is godly and influential. In order to build such vital personality and character, we need to guard our heart and take control of our mind. Control of mind is the key to maturity and fruitfulness in the context of building a reconciled personality. We need to live a life of integrity and genuineness. We need to be focussed and purpose-driven. We need to work with intensity and utilise every moment of our life, reckoning opportunity to be the privilege. Reconciliation is a great Christian doctrine with universal liberative significance. Before we can be the agents of reconciliation, we need to be the persons of reconciliation. Therefore, let the prayer of the Psalmist become our prayer: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psa. 51:10). May the Lord help us to control our mind and become persons of integrity, intentionality and intensity for the glory of God.