Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Gateway Between Prosperity and Worthlessness

I will set nothing wicked before my eyes. (Psalm 101:3)
David, psalm writer and king, made this commitment before the LORD, but he wasn’t just talking about his eyes, he was talking about his heart. Whatever you give place to with your eyes, that is what invades your imagination and enters your heart.

The operative verb here is “set.” It means to appoint, fix in place, or establish before you. It is not talking about things that may simply pass before you, things over which you have no control. This is about what you choose. Proverbs says,
As he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)
The Hebrew word for “think” which is used here literally means “to act as gate keeper.” We can choose to let certain thoughts come in and have a place in our hearts, and we can choose to keep other thoughts from being established in us. The choice is ours — we are the gate keepers of our own hearts. But whatever we allow to be at home in our hearts, that is what determines the sort of person we are. The quality of our thoughts reveals the quality of our character.

Want to know what a man has given place to in his heart? Its not hard to find out. Jesus gave us the key.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
So the secret is to listen to the words of a man’s mouth. If you listen long enough, you will discover what is going on inside him in abundance. You’ll find out even quicker if you listen to him when he is under pressure. You’ll know what kind of a gate keeper he is, what he has set before his eyes.

Now, let’s consider the word “wicked.” David said, “I will set [establish] nothing wicked before my eyes.” There are a few Hebrew words for “wicked,” but the one used here is belial. You may have come across this word transliterated into English, particularly as a description of character. The Bible refers to various men as “sons of Belial.” These are good-for-nothings, worthless fellows, up to no good. That is what the word belial means: worthless and without profit. It describes a path that leads to destruction.

David determined that he would not set worthless, unprofitable things before his eyes. He would not let them pass through the gate of his heart. This is very much like what Paul counseled his disciples in Philippi:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
What a powerful benefit this brings. The God of peace (and the peace of God) will be with you. Paul was writing in Greek, and the word he used for “peace” is irene. But, no doubt, he would have had the Hebrew shalom in mind, a word which describes completeness — nothing missing, nothing broken.

What you set before your eyes, what you entertain in your imagination, what you let into your heart, can lead you to destruction — or into the peace and prosperity of God.
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)
The prosperity of your soul is another way of talking about what you let through the gateway of your heart. There is a direct relationship described here, indicated by the word “as.” If you limit the prosperity of your soul by what you let into your heart, you also limit the prosperity of your life. Fill your heart with worthless things, and so will your life be filled with worthlessness. Or let the things of God dwell in your heart in abundance, which is always profitable, and your whole life and being will overflow with the prosperity of God. As you think in your heart, so are you, and so is your life.