Head and Heart
1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. 2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. 3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
As a child of the 60’s, it seems to me that I was educated to “feel” my way through a meaningful existence rather than think my way through it. To think that this paradigm shift occurred as we were simultaneously discounting the arts while aiming for the moon is quite problematic. Words like “self esteem” began to dominate the classroom, and everyone began to care more about what we felt than what we thought.
Now I don’t want to discount the emotional capacity that we all bring to our relationships. I’ve worked with some amazing thinkers who have virtually no emotional intelligence. These folks reinforce the old adage that “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Combining that criticism with the biblical virtues of compassion and mercy, thinkers have really taken a bad rap over the past 40 years. Obviously, thinking and feeling don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but one normally rises above the other.
The church has dealt with this conflict by having the “head and heart” discussions around elder-board tables for years as well. You could argue that it was this issue that caused the “Great Worship Wars” of the 1980s. To be sure, it is difficult to find believers that are able to appreciate (and manage) the proclivities of those bent toward either direction. Those who lead more from the “heart” have been quick to criticize those in the ministry who operate more from the “head.” In my frustration and immaturity, I have often been quick in the past to express my criticism of the cerebrally gifted, forgetting that it takes both truth and passion to be a disciple as well as make them.
I need the Proverbs to keep me humble. The Proverbs come to us in the form of wisdom literature where the mind of God meets us in our daily passions. The purpose of the proverbial, we see right away in chapter one, is to teach us. There are places in all of us where we do NOT want to merely follow our hearts. Wisdom, the ability to understand things from God’s perspective, is applied thoughtfully to our daily walk as disciples, and therefore directive to our emotional sways. Simply put, wisdom guides us in living a disciplined life. We need our minds to engage and our lives to practice the concepts of “right, just and fair.” (Proverbs 1:3)
May the church be the place in the world where “feelers” grow in their ability to think. As my grandfather was fond of saying, “Truth spit with passion is always better than passion that just spits.”
As Proverbs is the wisdom book of the Old Testament, we can consider the book of James the wisdom book for the New Testament. We are starting an in-depth study of James in our new 5-week message series "Faith in HD." I'll see you this weekend.