We like to believe that our minds have the ability to decide but most of our decisions are actually made at a deeper level: the heart.
Many who give the mind a leading role in spiritual experience, quote Proverbs 23:7a, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he is” (NKJV). The problem is that the word translated “thinks” in this verse is not translated “thinks” any other place in the Old Testament. A good translation of the word is “gatekeeper.” As a man gatekeepers in his heart, so is he. What could that mean?
I believe the gatekeeper is the spirit. It controls the thought life much more than the thought life controls the spirit. A person with an independent spirit will be suspicious of any teaching that would say he needs to be submissive to other believers. A person who is bitter instinctively thinks negative thoughts toward the object of his pain. The spirit of a man guards and guides the mind to a significant degree.
So what is the role of the mind? The mind actually is much more effective when it is put into the role of the observer rather than the role of driver. When I pray with people, I make it a common practice to ask them what has changed on the inside … at the heart level as a result of the prayer. “What is the Holy Spirit doing inside of you?”
Our mind is a powerful driver in that we tend to go wherever our focus takes us. In the case of the person who has an independent spirit or one who is bitter, the spirit within tends to draw the focus of the mind in a direction. That focus will drive the thinking of the person and will greatly impact the outcomes for that person’s life.
Helping people focus on the work of the Holy Spirit is a powerful tool. To get that to happen, I generally have to ask them what the Holy Spirit is doing on the inside of them. Their mind becomes an observer of the work of God rather than a driver of the work of God.
The amazing thing is that when the mind actually sees God at work and gives God credit for being at work, the work of God generally increases. Praise and thanksgiving brings more of God’s presence, more of His empowering work. When the mind observes and gives thanks, it truly is a powerful thing!
We want our minds to be the driver, and thinking is important. Study is important. But even in study, we are observing what God has already spoken and trying to pull ourselves to a point of focus on who God is and what He wants. Even in study, if the mind becomes too much of a driver, it is likely that the end result will stray from a pure understanding of God. It will become tainted with whatever is happening in the person’s spirit.
How many times has unhealthy control been justified in the name of Christianity? A person with a controlling heart can easily find Scriptures to justify what is happening in his heart. His mind becomes a servant to his heart in that it rationalizes ungodly behavior. The mind thinks it is studying Scripture, but it is more of a responder than a driver.
Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (NKJV). Taste. Trust. Those are words that go well with the mind observing God and responding to God—making Him the focus.
I challenge you to slow down your thinking. Stop. Wait. Listen. Look for the subtle moving of the Holy Spirit. Observe the impact He is having on your spirit. Give Him thanks as the peace comes, as there is a lifting of the weight of this life. Cause your mind to become an observer and taste of the goodness of God!