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It’s The Thought That Counts

Updated: May 4

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee;

but his heart is not with thee.” Proverbs 23:7

We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s the thought that counts!” Used to describe the essence of giving a gift or doing a favor, this familiar refrain is met with fondness by some and disdain by others. Many will, with gladness, receive gifts not to their liking, while others utterly despise, sometimes even through public expression, any gift that does not suit their taste. To those who seemingly care nothing about the “thought”, receiving anything they don’t like is an insult. But they’re missing the point.

While I believe the giver of gifts should always seek to compliment a person’s preferences, the reality is, what someone detests now, they may eventually come to love and appreciate. So then, it is not so much what has been given, as it is the thought that prompted the offering.

This paradigm perhaps is applicable on a much wider scale than gift-giving. As I contemplate how friendships and relationships often play out, it appears that many aim to present themselves as attractive and desirable, while harboring thoughts that are not in the best interest of the recipient. And with delight, many are prepared to receive only what will harm them. Too often, the veneer of a smile and charming words disguise a toxic potion of self-service. And far too many fall for the deception. Equally true is the reality that many reject what would turn out to be a blessing, because, in appearance, it does not meet their approval.


The Bible places clear emphasis on the thought, rather than the action. Following the admonition in Proverbs 23:6, “Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats,” Solomon goes on to say, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” Proverbs 23:7.

Looking back to the judgment pronounced on the antediluvian world, we read in Genesis 6:5, that God not only “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,” but “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.


If we are all honest with ourselves, we often skillfully conceal our thoughts with polished demeanors and unassuming mannerisms, but oh could people know what we are really thinking! Indeed, all of our thoughts are not meant to be revealed to everyone, but the point here is that there is an overwhelming misalignment in the world today between thoughts, words, and actions. One can flatter themselves that they have not cussed someone out, or cheated on their spouse, but they think about doing it every day. And this pretense only lasts for a while.

If the thought is not corrected, sooner or later it will be acted upon. We are encouraged again by Solomon to: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23. And from the very lips of Jesus, we are given a profound lesson in Matthew 15. Notice what He says beginning with verse 17 in response to Peter’s request to explain the parable He had just told:

“Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

– Matthew 15:17-20

It is more common to emphasize one’s actions, and we are well pleased when at least it appears that the right thing has been done. On the other hand, we, especially parents, tend to fly through the roof when we see wrong actions. But the heart is the issue and as Jesus taught in Matt. 15, defilement comes from within. You can yell and scream, you can threaten, you can protest, but you cannot force, and you cannot legislate a change of heart.

Laws can be enacted to provide rights and protections, but they cannot cause your enemy to love you. Only Jesus can purify and change the heart. From the book, Desire of Ages, we find the following excerpt:


The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.” – Desire of Ages, 172.


Of course, what we dwell upon and what we allow to come into our souls through our five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) directly affects our thoughts. As you may have heard before, "Garbage in, garbage out". And as one evangelist said, the reason why we can watch certain T.V. shows, listen to certain music, and go certain places is that we do not mind being separated from God, for “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2.

To this problem, the remedy offered by Paul in Philippians 4:8 is very clear, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”


And finally, our encouragement from the psalmist reads:

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” – Psalms 24:4,5


If you are struggling with wrong thoughts, I invite you to make an appointment with the Savior today. He can and will help you! He can replace lust with love, pornography with purity, bitterness with benevolence, anger with affection, jealousy with joy, hurt with happiness, and trauma with triumph. He will give you full and final victory over more than just your words and actions, because, it’s the thought that counts!

Taste. Enjoy! Respond. Like! Share. Be encouraged!

To learn more about Narda Pella click on the logo and it will take you to our home page.


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