Wisdom was highly prized among all cultures of the ancient Middle East but the wisdom of Israel stood head and shoulders above them all. This distinctive emphasis was twofold: wisdom was revealed by God and as a result of this conviction, it called upon the seeker of wisdom to submit him or herself entirely to Him.
A foundational purpose of wisdom’s is to enable all of us to live life with skill, a purpose which Solomon makes clear in his opening comments in Proverbs 1:1-7.
Listening to and obeying his instruction, which ultimately comes from God, will enable sincere seekers of truth “to live disciplined and successful lives.” (v.3)
It is not difficult to see then, how readily the wisdom of God is connected with healthy thinking. Changing our negative and destructive thought patterns requires a different foundation to what we have been building our previous thinking upon and Solomon would argue that the best foundation we can have is the wisdom of God.
It’s a simple process really – I call it basic discipleship as we lay down God’s Word and Wisdom as the foundation for our thinking and living by practicing the following steps:
- Read God’s Word/Wisdom regularly.
- Reflect and meditate upon it.
- Allow it to shape your thinking.
- Do it! Obey it! Put it into practice!
Let’s say you are struggling with thinking negatively of a particular person all the time. Nothing they do makes you happy – all you see are the negatives. But you want to change this pattern of thinking because you know it will ultimately break your relationship with them.
Begin by reading God’s Word. You could start with Proverbs 17:9 – “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”
Then take some time to think and meditate on it. How could this be applied to your situation? Do I have a genuine grievance against this person or is this something I can overlook?
Now allow it to shape your thinking. When you are confronted again by the situation and you find yourself going down a negative trail of thought, remind yourself of Prov. 17:9 and tell yourself that this is the mindset you want to have.
Finally, do it! Consciously choose to overlook the fault and see the good in the person. You could even add a prayer along the lines of, “Lord, you know I want to love this person. Right now, all I can see are the negatives but I choose to submit myself to you and your word. I choose to love and I choose to overlook. Help me to do this in your strength. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”
If you are serious about developing healthy habits of the mind that will lead to changing your life then Proverbs is a great place to begin. Commit to reading a chapter a day on the first of the month and in 31 days you will have read the whole book!
But don’t let it end there. Highlight in your Bible or write down the sayings that speak to you most or to something you are wanting to change and commit them to memory. The wonderful thing about the Proverbs is they cover a wide range of areas of life that we can all relate to and by applying them personally, we can all grow and change.
Here are a few to get you started:
Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (10:19)
Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. (17:28)
(See also: 11:11-13; 12:22; 13:3)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)
(See also: 14:17; 14:29-30; 16:32)
See: 5:15-20; 21:9; 27:15-16.
Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine. (3:9-10) Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. (3:13-14)
(See also: 3:27; 11:25; 13:4)
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (4:23) or as another version puts it, Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
One final thought. Remember, we are talking about habits so the change process will take time as you actively replace bad thinking habits with new, life giving ones grounded in God’s Word and Wisdom.
So practice, practice, practice and above all, seek God’s help and strength because He is totally committed to making you more like Jesus:
“And the Lord – who is the Spirit –makes us more and more like Him (Jesus) as we are changed into His glorious image.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)