The Importance of a Discerning Heart

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Wisdom comes first. Get wisdom! (Prov. 4:7)

Above all else, guard your heart, because life flows from it. (Prov. 4:23)

I have a clear memory of noting, at an early age, the contradiction between the concepts of wise and foolish. The wise man acts, speaks, thinks nobly, and seeks the other’s good. On the other hand, the fool is selfish, seeks the easy way, seeks himself, benefits, and deceives.

With time and struggle, I have been learning to develop patience. But I must confess that I have no tolerance for foolish attitudes. For example, let’s imagine that we are on the road, and before us is a long line of vehicles all stopped. A few kilometers ahead, there is an accident. Traffic is stopped because the police, the ambulance, are working, attending to the accident, and yet, what do we still hear? An insistent car horn thinking that traffic will move forward by doing so. That is irritating nonsense.

The past months seem to have been full of nonsense.

Perhaps if the fools had not been in the majority, deaths due to COVID-19 would be less. If only the fools had worn a mask. Perhaps if the fools who heard speeches based on lies, falsehood, and division, would have been wiser, the January 6 D.C. riot would not have happened.

Among the books we had to read while in high school was “Proverbios y Cantares” (“Proverbs and Songs”) by Antonio Machado that said: “it is foolish to confuse value and price.” Seneca wrote, “it is preferable to be poorer than to be foolish,” and then the famous sayings that tend to reflect behaviors of daily life “when the wise man points to the moon, the fool looks at the finger.” There are many of these.

How important it is to use the necessary filter of discernment. Discernment is the power to separate or distinguish between things. It is a crucial element in critical thinking. Critical thinking is asking ourselves questions to filter the information received and to make a decision.

The book of Proverbs invites us to diligently watch over our hearts, in the same way, that a soldier should watch over his prisoner. The heart in the Scripture is not only the place where feelings like joy, happiness, pain, and grief are. It is also the place where we make our decisions. “Love and truth, write them in the book of your heart” (Prov. 3:3), “... from the human heart, evil thoughts come out ...” (Mark 7:21). “... give me integrity of heart ...” (Psalm 86:11). “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts ...” (Phil. 4:7).

The place where we decide to be wise or to be foolish is the heart, which is why we must guard it diligently.

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