The Contextual Meaning of “As A Man Thinketh …”
By Fred Pruitt
“Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” (Prov 23:6-7).
At the center of our being we are “spirit,” and God is Spirit, and we speak of God as a* Spirit who wills this and wills that. Therefore that part inside us that is most like God must be the place of full transaction with Him. Our spirit lives are our real lives and this is our center. That is what it means when it says our hearts determines our lives, or the place in which our innermost choices are made. This isn’t what to have for dinner or what to watch on TV tonight, but instead we are speaking of the Holy of Holies within us from which all the issues of our lives spring. As Proverbs says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”
You see, it is just here that we begin to get a clue to our answer we are seeking. If it is established in us that we have been wholly translated from one kingdom to another in our new birth and subsequent walk in Christ, then we begin to have a vantage point from which we may see this understanding of ourselves. We have made our real choices in our inner spirit, and the rest of life afterward is based on these foundational choices. Even our choice for Christ was not made by us independently. Even as we said whatever we said to declare our faith in Christ, we were speaking in and by the Holy Spirit, for as Paul said, “No man can call Jesus Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” He answers before we call. He is the voice in us before our brains move our tongues. (Or as I like to say, He’s REAL FAST! As soon as it occurs in us to speak the Word of our betrothal and marriage to Christ, even if at the time we did not understand anything about the New Life we were about to enter, the Holy Spirit fills our mouths with the words of that confession!)
GOD HIMSELF enters us to speak in us, as us, the Word of faith that we are His! How about that? Right there at minute one, day one, of our new birth, the Holy Spirit entered us before we even spoke the word, for it was He at that moment Who prompted us and then as us spoke the Word of our eternal salvation! “No man can call Jesus Lord except by the Holy Spirit!” That is the closest temporal moment, which we can say that the union and new birth begins. They (union and new birth) are one and the same.
Our first “act” in the kingdom of God, our entry point, is an act accomplished by the Holy Spirit, using our mouths. It is a union act, at the very beginning of our spiritual lives!
Another verse in Proverbs 23:7 says this: “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” It is a verse often used to tie our spirituality to our thought life, but it is really saying something deeper than that. If we look at the whole scenario, we find that what the real message of this passage is that whoever we are within us is the kingdom we manifest in our lives.
The perpetrator in the verse is someone who flatters in order to gain something over others. He has wicked motives though he speaks in a friendly flattering manner. But the observer sees through his hypocrisy, and thus the scripture says, “As he thinketh in his heart … so is he,” not in order to exhort us to better thought control, but to understand that whatever the heart of a thing is, that is what it is. Nothing can be hidden. A pretense is always found out. So, the final message of this is that, if we are Christ within, then that is who we are out in our world. It is the air we breathe and the walk we walk and talk we talk. Just by being. And visa versa.
So the heart then is the center of all things, and this is our innermost place within us, the holy place, which is pervasive throughout the entirety of our being, yet found only in the stillness and rest of faith. And that is where our real choices are made. That is where our lives are coming from, from the moment the “Bread of Heaven” comes to live in us. We are no longer living an earth-only life, but now a life in and of the Spirit regardless of our conscious progress. Heaven comes down and fills my soul and never leaves. No need to keep asking for what has already happened. It only needs acknowledgement through faith, for it has already been provided by grace.
We will know the truth of what we have written above when we realize what we are hoping to happen (“when I am living out of it”) already has happened. What do we expect, to “feel” differently? To somehow “be” different?
NO, we already are He, and have been since He became one with us. It is only that we have not known it, not that it has not been true. It has absolutely nothing to do with how we feel, think, act, respond, emote, theorize. Quit looking for “evidence” – “lo here,” or “lo there.” The kingdom of heaven IS within us. We stop judging it and simply believe. It already IS, and WE already ARE!
A bit more on that scripture in Proverbs. Someone wrote me regarding that passage, and brought up other issues of faith as well. Here below is the reply to that person.
Ok, I guess that does bring up another thing you said also, since I said it has nothing to do with what you “think.” You brought up the oft used “as a man thinketh” scripture, used as people normally use that verse.
Here is what you said:
“EVERYTHING is about what we think in our minds (as a man thinks….so is he…and you already stated that in your book). If I really BELIEVE that He IS living His life through me….if I really BELIEVE that I DID DIE on that Cross with Him ….”
Now, Proverbs 23: 6,7 – the verse in its context:
“Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
That scripture is almost always incorrectly used, since hardly anyone notices its context. The normal way of using it, is that your “thinking mind” controls who you are. In other words, your conceptual knowledge, your doctrines, the “teaching” we live by, etc. But that is not the context of the scripture where it is found in Proverbs. It helps to read it in its context to get its really, to me, much, much more glorious meaning than, “how you think controls how you are.”
“As a man thinketh” has been used for a long time to tie our “thinking” to success or failure of some sort in the outer world. A whole wave of “self-help” books, both past and present, starting with “Think and Grow Rich” in 1937 by Napoleon Hill, down to “The Secret” in our time have historically used this concept.
But we do not make God do our bidding based upon what we think. Jesus said we cannot accomplish the least little thing by “taking thought.” Proverbs hits the nail on the head, when it says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” (Prov 23:7). This is not outer mental thinking, referred to above, but spirit center. This scripture is saying our true colors show and manifest, no matter what our appearance on the outside to the contrary. The writer’s example in Proverbs is of a wicked man who flatters – who appears “for you” – but in his heart, spirit center, he is really not how he appears to be outwardly.
So then what wins out – the outer appearance of flattery, or the inner truth of self-for-self? The writer correctly says that whatever the heart is, that is what manifests, instead of focusing on the outer behavior, which might have appeared righteous. The converse is also true.
We live in our “choices” out of our spirit center, and being in Christ that is who we are, and that is where our choices are from. As we hold in “inner faith” that He and we are one, we consciously join the already functioning union reality within us, made alive in our understanding through our expression of the Spirit’s faith.
This is way deeper than our thinking mind. This is where it says “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” It comes from those depths, and is not a product of “thinking.” It is, instead, the ever present reality of Spirit, who has made us united with Himself in our innermost being, so that we become inwardly an inner spring of Living Water – THAT is what comes out of us, because it is Who we are, not because we have learned techniques or have better knowledge and understanding, but by the fact that He IS.
Bottom line, then, when we KNOW union with Christ, i.e. “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit [one self] with him,” (1 Cor 6:17), so that we have been given the revelation and taken by faith the truth of it, we find that our human “I,” having been joined as one with Him, is now He expressing Himself as us. Therefore there is no separation between ourselves and Christ who lives in us. When I (He and I) see that we together are as one person functioning, then the question of free will does not come up. We will what He wills and delight to do so. We have no separate will, and we cannot look inside ourselves and figure out where He leaves off and we begin. If we could, we would not be “one.”
*I wrote above “God is a Spirit” because using the article “a” is common usage, but I want to speak about it. As my teeny tiny comprehension of God has grown a tad here and a tad there, one thing that I have been unable to do is to pin God down to a grammatical “article.” In English, this would basically be using “a” or “the,” to denote distinction from another thing like it. But we cannot call or think of God as a “thing,” distinct and separate from other “things.” Therefore over the years I have found using “a” Spirit to describe God just did not cut it. For God to be “a” Spirit, then He is a “particular Being,” Who lives in some distinctive realm beyond our own, and more importantly, He is a “stand-alone separate Being,” separate from us, separate as Zeus from us and from the Creation.
However, God is not “a” Spirit, but instead IS Spirit, quite beyond our human comprehension, Who apprehends and is completely Present and Knowing of everything there is, was, or ever will be. God hears 5 billion prayers all at once and is completely present and hearing in each and every one, so much so that when we pray each of us is completely Alone with God and fellowship in Love however He does it in us, and yet at the same time the same God Who is totally PRESENT in our lives, is exactly the same full PRESENCE to all the billions of lives on earth in our time, as well as all those who ever lived before and all those who will come after. Then on top of that there are the planets in their orbits, asteroids roaming here and there, all working in His complete Knowing and Presence.
But what it all comes back to is us. Living our daily lives, being Christ in the environments where God has put us. Let us not despise our situation, no matter what it is. God is in it, and will do good by it!