Understanding what liberty means can help the people of God to learn what it truly means to be free. It begins with a change within the manner in which one thinks about himself or herself, what he or she believes about a situation in which he or she may find himself or herself, and what he or she believes is the truth concerning it all. As believers, when we think of self-examination and identifying who we are in Christ, one of the first passages we love to quote is found in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (KJV).
However, when we look further into what the author meant to convey to his readers, we realize that the ruler within this particular passage is referring to the person who is rendering the goods to another. The ruler is offering goods to someone who is considered beneath him in socioeconomic and cultural status, but desires to have what the ruler has in terms of lifestyle, influence, etc. Yet, if we continue to read the second half of the verse, we also can observe that the ruler is actually counting the cost and his motives toward his subordinate are not in the subordinate’s favor (Prov 23:7, NIV, NLT). By the time the subordinate person is cognizant of the significance of this variable within this relational equation, he/she would have already given up something of far more value than what has been received.
When reflecting upon the entire 23rd chapter of Proverbs, we can observe that it deals with the use of wise and sound judgment prior to engaging in any activity. This understanding is found when we look closer at the rendering of the word, thinks, as it used within verse seven. “Thinks” comes from the Hebrew word, Sha’ar, which originally means, “to split; to open; to act as a gatekeeper.” It is used in the figurative sense only in Proverbs 23, verse 7, and means “to think; to estimate, set a price (i.e., verbs of cleaving often had the sense of judging).”
In other words, we must first consider the matter prior to becoming identified with the elements that comprise the situation. We can become perceived as being guilty just by our association with a person or with a situation without ever having any actual involvement with either factor. When we associate with someone or a situation, we are opening (in the sense mentioned in the definition above) ourselves up to being scrutinized with every thing that is within proximity of the person or thing. For this reason, Paul states,
“Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me, but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.” (1 Cor 6:12, AMP)
…to be continued