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Okay, I am listening now

For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones. (Proverbs 2:6-8 ESV)

By making our ear attentive to wisdom and turning our heart toward understanding, we can learn what it is to really walk in the way of the right-standing. It is a two-fold thing to learn to walk uprightly. We must first really apply ourselves to listening - something which can be a huge challenge in a world where there are so many voices vying for our attention. As we "tune up" our listening ability, we must do more than just "hear" - we actually have to be willing to apply what it is we are hearing. It must begin to affect the heart, for this is the way of the right-standing - hearing and acting upon what is heard.

God is the one who gives understanding. Man can do a tremendous amount of searching - looking into every nook and cranny in search of truth. It is God who gives man's mind and heart the ability to both recognize and embrace it, though. At best, man may get a niggling they are on the right path by the outcomes they witness when they apply truth in their lives. For example, there is a truth which says if you save a little each paycheck, you will eventually have a nice little sum put away in a matter of a few years. Those who teach it in financial seminars will call it the "spend less than you make" principle. Now, it isn't rocket science, but you must convince your brain and align your heart to actually abide by this principle for the eye is constantly being entertained by the next new thing on the forefront beckoning for us to just "buy it".

It sometimes takes longer to get the mind and the heart to come to agreement, doesn't it? It is like one leads a certain way, but the other is drawn another. This constant tug-of-war is what often makes it harder for us to really trust truth when we hear it - for it seems to have a different pull with differing outcomes, but it may not be thing we have either convinced our minds to believe or our hearts to respond to. Look at our passage again - it reminds us that it is God himself who stores up "effective counsel" for the upright - a shield to guard those who desire to live with integrity (congruity) in their hearts and minds. I am encouraged by the idea that it is God's "effectiveness" that makes the difference in our lives - not our own consistent use of wisdom or determination to obtain understanding.

We can either admit we don't do a good job of listening, causing the actions which stem from our heart to be a little challenging to us; or we can struggle with this "in-congruence" between heart and mind for way longer than we should. The choice is simple to me - listen, apply, learn and relearn time and time again. I don't learn the first time - I am one of those who learns by repeating the lessons. It isn't anything I am proud of, but if you relate to need to relearn the lessons from time to time, then you are in good company, for most of us actually live this way! Just sayin!

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