Proverbs 20:5 NRSV
The purposes in the human mind are like deep water,
but the intelligent will draw them out.
As believers, we should ask ourselves whether we are reactionary or reflective? When someone is reactionary, they depend upon their reactions to circumstances or their emotions to make decisions. They have difficulty acting in a prescribed or strategic manner, but rather respond to the situation around them. When someone is reflective, they are self-aware and able to make deliberate decisions based on an outside source (the Word); they are able to withstand influences that come from others or even from their own emotions.
As believers, we need to be reflective. We need to know ourselves, to know what makes us tick, to know what pushes our buttons, and then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to respond differently than we are inclined. We need to choose our behaviors, rather than allowing ourselves to be pushed and pulled by the circumstance of the moment.
James tells us that there are those believers who cannot control themselves and that this loss of control is due to doubting:
The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:6-8 NRSV
I agree! When we don’t have a solid idea of where we are headed (heaven) or what we want (God’s will), we will have a tendency to react to circumstances, rather than being reflective and making decisions based on what we have learned from the Word and from the Holy Spirit.
The proverb tells us that this is a difficult task, perhaps even an arduous one. It’s not always easy to know ourselves for, in doing so, we must admit and confront our sin. 1 John 1:9 tells us that we must confess our sins; James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to each other, a practice in which few of us engage these days. In confessing our sins, we must “admit ourselves guilty of what we are accused of, [it is] the result of inward conviction.” Usually we don’t want to admit we are guilty. Ignoring somehow makes our sin seem to go away, the operative word being seem. Sin never goes away without confession and forgiveness (confession coming first).
If we are intelligent (wise), we will draw out the purposes of our minds by choosing to become reflective. And the best way to be reflective is through confessional prayer. When we are before the Throne, confessing the sins of which we know and asking God to reveal the rest, we will learn those kinds of circumstances to which we often react and will learn how to be reflective instead.