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Not Getting It

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
-Proverbs 23:7a (NKJV)

Do you ever say, "I don't get it"?  You might say it as an expression of bewilderment or consternation.  But often times we don't say it, but have the experience of it, of not getting it, and oppose or reject whatever it is; often subconsciously.

When we don't get it, we are prejudiced about or have a bias against something or someone that we do not understand.  There is right and wrong, morals and ethics; but there is also the different and the new and the alternative view point or paradigm.  We sometimes want to destroy an idea rather than seek to understand it, and we want to shut a person down carrying a new or different concept, rather than hear them.

I was thinking about how often we say or write to one another what boils down to, "you are wrong, so shut up", and how an alternative might (at least) be, "I think you are wrong, but let's eat together".  If we could eat together, maybe something good or at least better can happen to us.  Having food together is a beginning to the path of understanding.

My next thought was that we should say instead, "let's eat together and I will listen to you".  One philosopher said that our modern society is filled with "dialogues of the deaf".  We talk past each other.  I often spend hours reading or listening to people who disagree with other people on issues of theology and issues of politics, talking at and past each other.

Debate and discussion, questions and answers, argument and rebuttal should be normal and welcomed by believers.  We should not be afraid of these, but should be vigorous in them.  But first, to be authentic believers in Jesus, we must make it our highest priority to be in his love.

To be loved and to love is the foundation of the Christian life.  The Christian life is a journey, where God keeps touching and transforming our hearts and thereby renewing our minds.  If you have been a Christian for some time, you will be able to look back, ten or eleven years, for instance and observe that your heart is more Christlike and you are more godly and you don't think the same way or say the same things.

The proverb that I am speaking from, says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."  As is sometimes the case, the Hebrew is difficult to translate into English, so you will find Proverbs 23:7 to be different in different translations.  What got me started on this word was that I was recently listening to an introduction to some lessons, that were about new ideas or paradigms, and the man quoted Proverbs 23:7, from the King James probably.

In many translations, like the HCSB, this verse is rendered, "for it’s like someone calculating inwardly. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you."  The idea is that a person says one thing but that is not where their heart is.  In other words, he is a person who says one thing, but thinks another.

The Bible is pretty clear that we want to be people who say good things that are authentic or come from our hearts.  It is the habit of some people to say good things, even flatter others or ideas, but be insincere and not mean it or believe it.  It is a terrible state to be in and a person we want to run from, who says one thing but secretly believes another thing.

I've known people who constantly smile and even say little nice things, while secretly being hostile, judgmental, and seething with anger and prejudice.  When asked about the lack on congruency, their explanation is that they were just being "polite".  The human solution for the uncomfortableness of the saccharine person is to run from "the different", and those who desire authenticity want to withdraw from them.

There has got to be a better way for us to live.

The antidote is not space but is Jesus' life within ours.  This proverb is telling us to beware of people like this.  But, if we find that we are that person who does not get it, that we just can not manifest the life of God and move up and onward into Christs's life or Father's love in our lives; there is a better way, a new and living way.

The reason we don't get it, is because of our hearts.  Our hearts govern how we think.  We speak or write about what we think, but our thoughts come from and are governed by our hearts.

Our hearts govern our minds.  When we say, "I don't get it", it means that our heart is holding back our mind or how we think.

This proverb is spoken in the context of a man who says to you, "Eat all you want, enjoy yourself!", but what that man really thinks is, "Don't eat too much!".  That man has a mental arithmetic going on in his heart within.  There is a calculation occurring in him, that makes it so he can not go forward, into that place, of authentic generosity.

Here is the context to this saying:
Do not eat the bread of a miser,
Nor desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.
The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up,
And waste your pleasant words.
He, the guy in this story, can not authentically do the generosity thing, because he does not get it.  He is a miser, or he has an evil eye.  This is an old-fashion figure of speech.  This is verse 6 in the King James:
Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye,
neither desire thou his dainty meats:
-Prov. 23:6 (KJV)
Evil eye, or miser in our newer translations means:
  • a sordid, grudging temper (1)
  • an envious or covetous person who secretly grudges the food set before others (2)
  • a jealous person that cannot bear other's happiness (3)
The reason that the man is a miser, one with an evil eye, is that there is something wrong with his heart.  He may try to do the right thing or try to look good, doing what is right, but he can not pull it off, because, "as he thinks in his heart, so is he".

This is a very common problem, seeing things through a heart that has been given upgrades, that are laying to the side, and have not been implemented.  Upgrades are not necessarily automatic.  The steps to maturity are learned through participating with God in his transformation of you.

We are supposed to be in a transformational process.  But we can be many years, decades, or a lifetime in the Lord, and have this evil eye, of miserliness, envy, jealousy, and ungenerousness.  The life of the believer is a life of continual transformation and renovation of our hearts.

We are unable to think in a new way and be acting in a godly way, unless our hearts change and are continually soft and flexible and becoming Christlike.

As we think, so are we.  We are limited by our thoughts and our thoughts are governed by our hearts.  We can not do it, because we do not get it.  Sometimes we have self awareness and say, "I don't get it", but other times, we are not able to do it because we don't get it and we do not even know we don't get it.

Consider the thinkers of old, how the opinion of many, perhaps the consensus, or even common knowledge was that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth.  Outside the box, pioneering thinkers came up with different ideas: that the earth was round and that the earth revolved around the sun.

They dared to dream, opened their hearts to possibilities beyond the known or accepted.  They used the tools they had of math, science, and reason; but added to those the essential ingredient of openness to the beyond, to the new, to a new paradigm, or to something that was like a dream being proved true as a reality.

There might be a connection between and open heart, generosity, and innovation.  Life is when you progress, grow, and do new things, and become a better person.  Death is when you stay the same, don't do anything new, and do not change for the better.

God is always calling us upward.  We are the ones stuck on plateaus.  It takes effort to climb up or swim or walk forward.

If you don't go up and just stay on the plateau, then you are vulnerable to all sorts of diseases and infections that are warded off through exercise.  There is no "doing nothing" or "neutral" or "stopping learning" - and learning means, "hands on, doing it".  You are either pressing on, forward, or you are drifting backwards.

So, we are always getting upgrades and implementing them, with the Lord on the journey he has us on.  He is always changing our hearts, so that we think and see differently (better) and do life better (more godly, more Christlike).

I am zeroing in on this phrase: "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he". The context is generosity, hospitality, and food. But we can transpose this mind/heart/being concept to all areas of life.

Another example of this is music. Either secular or sacred. We do not like the new music, because our heart is attached to the old.

Today, the old music, in church, are the hymns and praise songs, that we say, "I grew up with".  Since I became aware, I have noticed people who want the old music and don't like the new music.  And the new music is everything that has come out, since you bonded with the music you heard and sang, at the beginning.

If you go to most any hymnal, and read it, noting the dates of each song, you will notice that there are hundreds of years of variance.  Each song was brand new at one time.  Songs have been added to the hymnody over the years, decades, and centuries.

Even if you have a set of the old and gold, that you love and say, "those are the good songs"; if you look at the composition dates, you find that each song came out or was written far apart, even in some cases, hundreds of years apart.  It is an ironic point that each of the old songs were new at one time and may have been dismissed or rejected at the time, but today are standards for some people.

The way I see it, is that we bond with or form a sentimental tie to certain music or styles of music.  We argue that it is the best and do not like any or most any of the new; and the new is defined as anything older than the music we bonded with years ago.  And it is not that it is any better, but the issue is that our hearts are attached to it, so our minds can not make room for or receive the new music.

The point or issue is the rejection or the 'not getting it' with the new.  Nobody is saying that the new is better.  It is just new and for some reason, we do not like the new.

But the Bible says, "sing a new song".  The Bible also says, "Behold I do a new thing", and "I make all things new".  God is into new and renew.

In Luke 5:37-39, we have Jesus' saying about new and old, wine and wineskins.  He says that it is natural, that if you've got the old wine, you like it better and do not want the new wine.  Jesus is open or tolerant of the fact that some folks prefer the old, and don't want the new.

We make the mistake when we herald the new thing and say the old must go.  Jesus wants unity and not uniformity.  God can and does do a new thing, but God is often ok with and he even wants the old to remain.

For example, when God does a new thing or a renew thing, that we become a part of, we make a grave mistake if we criticize the older thing and start to say that everyone needs to get into the new thing.  It is also a terrible mistake when people in the older thing criticize, attack, or persecute the new thing happening.

God is always doing new things and the people who hear the call and sign up for the new have the temptation to criticize the old or stand above the old, in pride.  And the most tempted people to judge and persecute the new, are the very movements that the new has come out of.  The once new movement falls into pride (monumental pride) and ends up not supporting, but criticizing the new movement born from, through, or after them; that is newer and is now the new.

There have always been tribes and movements within the whole of Christianity.  At whatever time you were born, and to whatever tribe, movement, or expression of Christianity you came to life within; you begin to live your Christian life according to that tribe's values and practices.  When you were born from above, you had no idea that there were 31 or 31,000 other tribes with other values and practices; with the shared commonality or unifying person, of Christ.

It is a mistake to say that our tribe, family, or expression is the right way and only way of living out Christian life in value and practice.  But some people gravitate toward that mindset.  We do not understand or "get" other Christians, of other tribes, because our hearts are so attached to our tribe, our way of doing it.

Just like a child from birth and into adulthood, widens their sphere of what the world is, so we too as Christians, are born from above in the context of a particular tribe or family.  At some point, we discover that there are other tribes, who have the name of Christ, yet are different in values and expression.

We either say "wow" and have our mind expanded, because our heart is centered in Christ, and it is like meeting relatives for the first time: we are related by blood or covenant, but we are different: we dress different, we talk different, we eat different, we play different, and we do things differently.  Or, we say "no thanks", or "yuk" (to ourselves hopefully), and disengage from meeting these new and different people.  The only people we want to be around or worship with are the people we grew up with or grew up in the same environment.

This may be called sectarianism.  Banal sectarianism is when you are a nice person who does not want to be around, or is uncomfortable being around different people, I mean people who celebrate Christ differently than the way you have always done it.

It has been said that the seven last words of a dying church are, "we've never done it that way before".  And to make it ten, some people add the tag line, "we're not changing!"

The most toxic sectarianism is where a group becomes deluded or deceived into believing that they are the representatives of Christ, on the earth, who are getting it right; in belief and practice.  And everyone else is wrong.  They have an arrogant pride and a shocking lack of curiosity to inquire if God might have other people in his family, who don't look and play like us, but are as genuine as we deem ourselves to be.

This is how it has worked in my own life.  I have been very enamored with my tribe, my taste of worship music, and my discoveries about forms of church.  But from the beginning of my life in Christ, I have also always been curious about the other tribes out there, about my cousins I have not met.

In fact, I kept making friends who were outside my tribe and did not want come in.  This has always been bitter sweet.  I have had best friends who were Jewish, Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon.

I was lucky, if that word works, to not go to schools where everyone was like me and believed and practiced their faith exactly how how did.  I think to be isolated and indoctrinated by people who are only "your kind" is a great disadvantage.

As I grew in my own sentimental bonding to my own ideas or practices of Christianity, I have had the competing idea or thought, that says God loves other expressions, tribes, and peoples that do things differently.  I have had to painfully figure out that it is not right to look back, over the shoulder, and criticize, just the same as it is wrong to look ahead and criticize people who have branched out and are doing something different.

I would say, do not criticize those you left or who just are different.  And also do not judge or criticize people who are going outside or beyond your faith or practice.  There is that hard saying, that many are called but few are chosen.

I believe God is huge on choice.  He does have plans and he does have ideas and his will for us, but we have to choose our path with, under, and through our relationships with him.  And in the playground of life, there is room for experimentation, trial and error, tasting and seeing; with massive grace in his love.

God's life for us is a fail safe zone.  It is safe to fail.  He is perfect and we are not.  Perfectionism is a perilous, limiting, base concept that is not Christ.

He is perfect and we are all on a journey towards him who is the perfect, but we are not.  Each day is a new day and God makes it new.  There can always be a new beginning and God is always doing new things and making things new again.

God is wildly optimistic, even about you and me; about us together.

There are two ideas I am trying to get across:  One is that God is always innovating and doing new things.  God has the most advanced research and development department on the planet, for new ways and methods for the advancement of the kingdom of God.

We need soft hearts that are in Christ, that are always open to God's new thing, new paradigm, new songs, new wine; so that we can all be workers in the harvest field of the world, for the kingdom and the glory of God in Christ.  When we attach ourselves to a thing, rather than to Christ, we become closed to the new idea, new plan, or new way that God wants to move.  God is infinitely creative and not at all robotic.

We need to be always cultivating flexible hearts that have Christ as the center, so that we can be learning and doing the new thing he calls us to.

The second thing is that while we all are called to the first point of having soft and flexible hearts in Christ, that are always ready and will to change, be renewed, or do things differently; we need to realize that he may not call every believer to to things differently in a particular new way.  The lesson of this second part is that if he calls you to a new and different thing or way, not only do you need to know that he does not necessarily call everyone to what you are being called to, but you are not to criticize the ones you came from or left behind.  And, by the same token those who do not participate in the new thing, who have not heard or felt the call to it, are not to criticize the pioneers who leave and go into this uncharted territory.

The key is our hearts.  If your heart is good, you can not only be open to and appreciate the new thing, 'getting it', but you will not have any need to be intolerant of or ungracious to the ones who are going to do it differently, because God has called them into the new thing.  We want to have our hearts be like God's heart, always ready for the new for me and ready to bless others who see and do the new they receive.

We want to be able to say "I get it" and be able to say to others, "I get you".  Our minds can do this, when we have Jesus being King in our hearts.  And it is a continual process that is practiced over time, in a love relationship with the Lord.

______________________________________
Footnotes:
1.  Charles Ellicott, A Bible Commentary For English Readers
2.  Joseph Benson, Commentary on The Old And New Testaments
3.  H.D.M Spence, The Pulpit Commentary

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