“The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers them. The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand. A man is commended according to his good sense, but one of twisted mind is despised.”
How you think matters.
Note the progression in this passage from Proverbs: first thoughts, then words, then action, then consequences, and finally reputation and legacy. The progression is true for those that pursue what is right, and the progression is also true for those who are wicked.
Right thinking produces wise words, which leads to effective action, which results in a “house that stands”, which results in an honorable reputation and legacy. Wrong thinking produces exactly the opposite, and the result is being “overthrown” and a reputation of being “despised.”
The Hebrew word for “twisted” is avah, and it refers to something that is bent, distorted, or perverted. This mental distortion — this twisting of the mind — is a consequence of the Fall recorded in Genesis 3. One of the most important gifts that God gave to man is the ability to think and make decisions. But at the Fall, man’s capacity for right thinking was twisted. From that moment forward human history has been shaped by a long series of bad thinking and wicked actions that produced many “houses” that were overthrown.
Twisted thinking destroys individuals, families, and entire societies.
Read through the history of Israel in the OT, and you will see the majority of the kings of Israel were guided by twisted thinking. The nation of Israel suffered mightily because of it. So too were the great empires of the ancient world eventually destroyed because of twisted thinking: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Many nations of modern times suffered the same fate: Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union.
The United States, for all its greatness and prosperity, has its own history of twisted thinking. Look no further than the horrors of slavery and America’s treatment of native Indian nations. Thankfully, the United States has made great progress in recognizing and repenting of its racist perspective and policies, but vestiges still remain, and the battle for “liberty and justice for all” is far from over.
Consider as well the twisted thinking in modern America that advocates for abortion on demand, the proliferation of pornography, human trafficking, and gender transformation of children.
But again, it starts with each of us as individuals. Cultivate your mind. Be discerning. Be disciplined in your thinking. Do not fall for “the deceitful counsels of the wicked.” The apostle Paul gives a clear admonition to pay attention to the way you think and to cultivate a disciplined mind:
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” (Ephesians 4.17-28)
Trust God, do the work, and be disciplined in the way you think.