This week I listened to a number of radio broadcasts and also did a great deal of research on the doctrines of a local church that I’ve been attending and prayerfully considering as a new church home for my family. I humbly request your prayer for wisdom and discernment in this matter. I have not been able to dedicate much time to research on the next major topics for our Bible study, so this week will be limited to a CTT (Completing the Thought) post. I heard a radio snippet of a Word of Faith (WoF) teacher who used the following KJV quote as a basis for “positive thinking” or “positive confession” that were supposedly required for us to be blessed of God.
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…”
No, there was no scriptural reference provided nor was the audience asked to turn to the scripture (I’ve noticed that teachers rarely do that anymore… they just pop the segment up on the “big screen” and drive on). A quick Google search will show this passage to come from Proverbs 23:7.
Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) 7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
Okay, so we already have 2 problems with this quote. The first is that the quoted portion isn’t even the entire verse (which is to be expected of most CTT posts). The next problem we have is that this proverb isn’t as generic and broad as what the (mis)quoted portion would suggest. The verse isn’t about “man” it is about “he”. Who is the “he” referring to? Let’s look at the immediate context. Since we are dealing with Proverbs, the immediate context could be only a few verses, such is the case here.
Proverbs 23:6-8 (KJV) 6 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: 7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.
Wow, that is painful to read. Nevertheless, we see the “he” is “him that hath an evil eye” and offers you his bread and dainty meats. Beyond that… I’m going to need another translation or 2 (Proverbs 23:6-8 (ESV/NASB/KJV)).
Proverbs 23:6-8 (ESV)
6 Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies,
7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.
Proverbs 23:6-8 (NASB)
6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies;
7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, And waste your compliments.
When I read this my mind immediately goes to welfare. It is not worth eating the bread of a selfish man whose heart is not with you. Not all indebtedness comes in the form of cash contracts. But lets dial that rhetoric down a bit and think back to the grade school bully mentality as depicted so often in children shows and cartoons. The rich kid who buys his friends with goodies… but his selfish nature allows him to abuse, manipulate, and cut off his friends for the slightest of offenses… You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments. There is great wisdom in this proverb, and many applications. Unfortunately for many in the WoF camp… it has absolutely nothing to do with self-esteem, self actualization, or any sort of pre prayer self alignment scheme.
I absolutely love this WUTT (When We Understand The Text) YouTube channel and this video covers this one very well in 90 seconds.
The verse, in context, isn’t even about the state of man in general. There is some teaching regarding the heart of man and his substance:
Matthew 15:10-20 (ESV) 10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
Ouch. Here Jesus is clearly speaking about all of us. Why did I go here? Because this makes it clear that no level of internal heart/soul-searching or inner-man/woman appealing, self-esteem speak has any chance of properly “aligning” us with God. The heart of sinful man (man and woman) is sinful. Only God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are capable of setting us straight. Brothers and sisters, please spend more time reading the Word of God and less time (and money) gobbling up the delicacies of those who preach-for-profit. You will vomit up those morels and will have wasted your compliments.
What purifies the heart is not some empty self-actualization, self-esteem, self-talk; rather it is believing in the One True God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Nothing of self, so that no one might boast, it is the Gift of God. Let us look at what the word says about the proper role of our hearts in salvation:
Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Romans 10:5-13 (ESV) 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
May the Lord bless and keep you,