Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace wrote, 19th century British author, James A. Allen.
In this classic book, As He Thinketh, Allen further observes, “By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master. “
“Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this – that man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.”
Allen’s observations only reflect the truth stated in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Consider these three applications of this Biblical axiom.
#1 Our Thoughts Determine our Character.
The kind of person we are is the result of the kind of thoughts we have been thinking. Jesus affirmed that this is so. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19)
The wise man also said, “The thoughts of the righteous are right; but the counsels of the wicked are deceit” (Prov. 12:5). The righteous don’t think right thoughts because they are righteous, but they are righteous because they think right thoughts.
If we are to become the kind of person that God wants us to be, if must begin with the right kind of thinking. Indeed as Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
#2 Our Thoughts Precede our Actions.
Since we are what we think, what we do will be the result of what we are thinking about.
For example, Paul said in Acts 26:9, “I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Why did he do these things? Because he thought about them. Also, when Simon sinned in Acts 8, Peter indicated that his evil action came about as a result of the thought of his heart (v. 22).
A person’s thinking is so important because it determines his deeds. Good deeds result from good thinking; bad deeds result from bad thinking. While it is important to always correct our wrong deeds, it is more important to correct our wrong thinking.
#3 Our Thoughts Fortell Our Circumstances.
This is a general principle. Obviously, some events beyond our control may happen in life that affect us adversely. But it is usually true that our lot in life has been determined by our thoughts. Solomon said, “The thoughts of the diligent tend to the plenteous; but of every one that is hasty only to want” (Prov. 21:5).
James A. Allen expressed it this way, “The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves; and also that which it fears.
Even when bad things happen to good people who’ve been thinking righteous thoughts, our attitude and thinking will determine the way we deal and feel about misfortune. Paul demonstrated this kind of thinking in the different situations of his life (Phil. 4:11-13).
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:11-13)
Samuel Smiles challenges us to right thinking when he wrote:
Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman