How Our Damaged Minds Function

How Our Damaged Minds Function February 29, 2016

Proverbs 22:13 furnishes us with profound insight about how our mind-heart connection works, but you have to look carefully to see it. It reads like this: “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!’”

Notice anything odd about that verse? Hint: it’s in the speaker, not his speech. Whom would you expect to protest about a lion in the streets and use that as an excuse to stay inside? Most likely “the coward,” right? But Solomon puts this excuse in the mouth of “the sluggard.” Isn’t that odd? After all, we don’t usually say, “This guy’s too lazy to work because there’s a lion outside.” So why is this proverb worded that way? To illustrate how the mind-heart connection works in the lives of fallen people.

A sluggard knows that it wouldn’t be respectable to say, “I’d rather stay inside and sit around instead of going outside to work.” Nobody would let him get away with that. He needs an excuse to make his secret desire sound reasonable. What can he say? A lion! Perfect! That will get him what he wants, and nobody will criticize his decision.

Here’s the point: our wants often precede our thoughts. In other words, what we want (with our heart) will influence us to think (with our mind) in a way that will make our desires look right. Contrary to what we assume, our fallen minds are not neutral reasoning machines, capable of carefully weighing the evidence and rendering a sound, unbiased decision. Rather, our mind is the unknowing servant of our sinful hearts, putting its intellectual powers to work to figure out plausible explanations and rationalizations for our (often sinful) desires. When we feel powerful desires or fears in our heart, our mind bends reality to justify what we want.

That’s why Proverbs 23:16 says: “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can give a discreet answer.” This verse isn’t teaching that laziness makes people proud. It just makes them resistant to any truth that exposes their laziness. Even if seven men say, “There is no lion in the street,” the sluggard won’t admit that they are right. He must insist that his own answer is wiser, or else his laziness is exposed for what it is!

Next week: the Bible’s solution for the problematic partnership between our craving heart and our rationalizing mind.