How Do Thoughts Dictate Actions?
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7, NKJV
Some 3000 years ago the wise man—perhaps Solomon himself—said it so well: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Simply put, you become what you think—negative or positive. Your thinking shapes your attitude, and your attitude is like the wood carver’s tool that molds you into the image you become.
A 27-year-long medical study documented what the writer of Proverbs observed a long time ago. Dr. John Barefoot of the Duke University Medical Center and author of the study says that people who are depressed lack motivation, generally feel hopeless and have far greater health problems than those who are positive and upbeat. Furthermore, he says that individuals who think negatively of themselves and others have a 70 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 60 percent greater chance of premature death than those who are generally positive.
He would agree with the words of Proverbs 23:7 in the Bible that says “as you think in your heart, so are you.” OK, what’s new? Solomon knew this 3,000 years ago, but now we’ve documented it. Dr. John Barefoot believes that you just can’t afford to worry, and if you find yourself feeling “blue” for more than a couple of weeks, you need professional help.
The study revealed something else important, something that the thousands of letters which have come to me over the years bear out. When you have a relationship with God— “religious involvement” is what the study called it—you have a more positive mental attitude, and your attitude determines your altitude: whether you get above your problems or sink lower and lower.
The study shows that when people live with “bad feelings” their negative attitude tends to lead to excessive smoking, drinking, food binges, and dangerous activities which only feed the downward spiral.
What does a God-connection have to do with your attitude? Plenty. Perhaps everything. Anyone who has read the Bible realizes that there are times when individuals who had great faith in God ended up in pretty negative situations. Joseph found himself in prison because he resisted the sexual advances of the wife of the man he worked for. Daniel refused to bow to the king’s image and ended up being fed to the lions (who weren’t hungry). Jonah got tired of being God’s spokesman and ended up being bait for a big fish.
Read the New Testament and you will see the same thing. Stephen was martyred. Paul was imprisoned more times than he could count. Scores of men and women found themselves badly out of sync with their society and felt rejection and scorn, but–and this is where the whole thing turns the corner—when God’s children found themselves in tough situations, they didn’t give up, they didn’t despair. They knew that God—not their enemies or their adverse situations—was going to triumph.
It was this confident assurance that made the difference. No matter how beleaguered they were, or how hopeless things looked, they knew that God was in control, and that kept them generally positive and upbeat.
OK friend, on a scale of 1 to 10, where are you? If 10 on your scale is positive and upbeat, and 0 is negative, how would you rate yourself?
Without a relationship with God, there is little hope in some situations, but if you are fully persuaded that God is sovereign and that nothing can happen to you apart from His knowledge, you can remain confident and positive no matter how dark the day. If you question what I’m saying, I suggest that you read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, written from prison, and see how your relationship with the Lord determines your attitude, and your attitude determines what you become.
Resource reading: Philippians 4:1-23