By Shawn McMullen
Last month our “in the World” news page contained a news item with the headline, “Brain May Decline as Early as age 45.” Apparently recent studies suggest “that the brain’s abilities to reason, comprehend, and remember may start to worsen” at that age. Thankfully, the report concluded that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and establishing good cardiovascular health can stave off these unwanted effects.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I read the conclusion. Since I’m already 10 years past the suggested “age of decline,” I’ve become more committed than ever to exercising and eating right. (I only hope I’m not too late!)
I guess most of us who are in the throes of middle age or older wonder about this from time to time. “I’ve lost my car keys. Was I temporarily distracted, or do I have a more serious problem?” “I can’t remember his name. Could I have remembered it 10 years ago?”
Although we’re sure to lose a certain amount of brain function as we age, there is much we can do to keep our minds sharp and alert. In addition to exercising and eating properly, we can get adequate sleep, learn to manage stress, and remain socially active. We can read, work puzzles, tackle new projects, and study new subjects.
Even with all this, there is more than one way to be good stewards of our minds. As we care for our brains physically and mentally, we must also care for them spiritually.
Apparently, this is where King Solomon failed. He started out well enough. God came to him early in his rule and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon responded, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:7, 10).
God answered Solomon’s selfless request, and in addition to knowledge and wisdom, God gave the king “wealth, possessions, and honor” unlike any king before or after him (v. 12).
So why, then, would the wisest and most knowledgeable man of all time, a man to whom God appeared twice during his lifetime (1 Kings 11:9), spend his golden years worshipping other gods?
We could argue that he let himself be corrupted by his many foreign wives and concubines. (He was outnumbered 1,000 to one here!) In fact, the Bible says, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4). But that doesn’t let Solomon off the hook. He could have taken any number of steps to prevent this from happening. He could have obeyed God from the beginning by not marrying foreign women (see Deuteronomy 7:1-4). He could have lived by his own advice: “My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion” (Proverbs 3:21).
But he didn’t. Not only did Solomon suffer as a result; the entire kingdom of Israel was fractured.
Solomon was a wise man, but ultimately he wasn’t a wise steward of his mind. Let’s not make the same mistake.