As a Man Thinketh, So is He

"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" is something that is taught quite often in the church and it is always quoted as Proverbs 23:7. This was a scripture I heard regularly, in the self-help industry, before I was saved. I was a motivational speaker and owned a store that sold and rented motivational tape sets and books.

One of those books was As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. I also had a set of tapes by Earl Nightingale titled The Strangest Secret. Both were based on Proverbs 23:7.

The funny thing is that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" is not actually in the Bible. The closest to that is the King James Version:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”

Those who use Proverbs 23:7 to teach are typically saying that whatever you think about is what you become. Your dominant thought will become your dominant action. Well, that is totally out of context with what the scripture is actually teaching. To start with we need to read the whole verse 7. Here is how it actually reads in the KJV:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”

In the NIV, Proverbs 23:7 reads:

“for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.”

The NASB says it this way:

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.”

As we are to do, let’s study this in context with the scripture around 23:7. The context first is advice about dining with a ruler or king (verses 1-3). Next, not to overwork to be rich and be careful of riches (verses 4-5). Verse 6 says, “Do not eat the bread of a miser, nor desire his delicacies;” verse 7 “For as he (the miser) thinks in his heart, so is he. Eat and drink he (the miser) says to you, but his heart is not with you.”

Wow, Proverbs 23:7 takes on a whole new meaning. The scripture, is totally out of context and doesn’t match up with how it is typically taught. That said, the concept is correct. We do move toward our dominant thought. Our actions follow our thoughts, whether good or bad. That’s why in the last part of 2 Corinthians 10:5, the Apostle Paul teaches:

“take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

We need to think about what we are thinking about and compare it to the Word of God. If the thought lines up, keep it and if it doesn’t, reject it. It’s also why Paul makes it clear what we are supposed to be thinking about in Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

And in Colossians 3:2:

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

If we get our thoughts on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, then our actions will also be in alignment with heaven and the will of God. As a man thinks, so is he. As a woman thinks, so is she. The statement might not be in the Bible in that context, but it’s accurate anyway. Get your thoughts on Jesus and His Word and things will go much better in your life.

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