Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 23:19
"Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way"
This is a fascinating proverb because it tells us to do something that many people don't believe is possible. This proverb tells us to tell our soul what it should be interested in and the direction it should follow. This culture has been infected with the idea that you must follow your heart and do what interests you so that we have completely lost the idea that some of the stuff that you may want to do is bad for you. Some of the stuff that you are attracted to is trivial or idiotic and will never lead anywhere helpful or productive.
This section of the proverb starts in verse 17 with the admonition to not envy those who get what they have by cheating, lying, seducing, and intimidation. But this is what we are being sold through TV, movies, and magazines. We are bombarded with the idea that the sleaziest people have the really good life, but they don't. They are radically lonely and messed up. They took the one or two talents or gifts that they had and used them to gain power, wealth, and sin. It did not benefit them as evidenced by the fact that almost every celebrity is treated for some addiction, has multiple marriages, is constantly in therapy, and is a prisoner of their own fame.
Solomon says to make sure that you do not envy the sinners who are made to seem as though they have everything. It is not what it seems to be. It is righteousness that has the true rewards: enjoyable honest relationships; real productivity; freedom to enjoy life; internal peace; friends, not leeches.
This proverb tells us that you and I will have crucial choice-points in which we can aim our heart at the right things rather than the deceptive gains of sin.
The way is clearly marked by the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. If you have to lie or steal or intimidate people to do something, it is the wrong direction. The way means living by the Golden Rule: Would I want to be treated like this if someone did this to me? The way is full of loving God and loving others. It is a less flashy way than the way of sin, but it is far more effective and satisfying.
Now don't read this and agree with it but then walk away doing nothing differently. Today you face some decisions. Are you going to allow your mind to think about some sinful fantasy? No, stop it and think about some enjoyable righteous thing. Are you going to look at more pornography on the computer or TV? No, you are going to substitute some really fun thing with family or spouse in its place. Are you going to spend more time looking at catalogues so you can lust after stuff you don't need but really want? No, you are going to reinvest in what you already have and be grateful. Are you going to keep looking for ways to cheat at taxes or hurt others to have more personally? No, you are going to focus on being more productive so that everybody makes more.
It is too easy to let your mind think about sin. It is fun. It seems rewarding. But it isn't. There is a huge hook inside that juicy worm. Direct your heart (mind, will, emotions) at being wise. How can you please God, make others win, and build a win for yourself? It will be worth it and you will have a deep and enjoyable life if you follow the path of wisdom rather than the sinner’s path.