Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

As a Man Thinks in His Heart

  • Dr. Gary Smalley
  • Published Sep 26, 2006
As a Man Thinks in His Heart

Three years ago I had an old-fashioned tent revival in my heart. Through a heart attack and a kidney transplant, God brought me back to my first love, Jesus Christ. My love for Him has never been stronger and I am challenging myself everyday to grow closer to Him. Morning til night, I now practice 6 steps all day long:


Action Step One: Turn Over All Expectations to God
My expectations are the cause of much of my stress and distracted me from my relationship with Him.  Stress is the socially accepted word for anger. And stress is the gap between our expectations and reality. The greater the gap, the greater the stress. God promises that all of our needs will be met in Christ through his riches in Glory.  It’s not some needs will be met, but all needs.  When I rest in this truth and really believe God is faithful, I begin to experience true peace. 

Action Step Two:  Take Each Thought Captive  
This one, with God’s strength within me, allows me to manage all of my moods.  I wake up each morning with the overwhelming peace that nothing or no one can control how I feel today because I don’t give my power away to others or circumstances any longer to “make” me unhappy or happy.  I began practicing this step after better understanding the power of Philippians 4:8 which says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… and you will have the peace of God.” 


Whatever thoughts come to my mind and heart in any area of my life, I use the power of God within me to evaluate each thought or belief according the eight standards found in this verse.  If any thought is not consistent with these descriptions, I now have the power to stop my wrong thinking or beliefs and go on to thoughts that are consistent with these eight words.   

Action Step Three: Accept God’s Filter for Your Life 
God has the best plan for your life in mind, and God is in control. Through the seasons of my life, I could say this promise, but I believed it only in part. I acknowledged God’s Word was true, but my heart wasn’t convinced the promise was for me. Now I know that God loves me and wants the best for me at all times.  No matter what happens in the course of a day, a week, or a year, ultimately my times are in His hands and I trust Him to guide my every step. I now see that those things that seemed completely “bad” happened for a reason greater than I can know and see in this lifetime. I can trust in His sovereignty.  My focus is to become closer to him and more and more like Him and I know I have a long ways to go.  But for now I trust that whatever happens to me has not escaped His knowledge.  He’s not only taking care of me, but He has a plan to use everything that happens for my good and His glory.

Action Step Four: Worship God in the Midst of Trials. 
Nothing in life should be able to shake our joy in the Lord. Not matter what trials we are facing, we can still worship God and be thankful. A grateful heart is a healthy heart.  God can always use what hurts us to teach us where we need to grow. Instead of fighting God when things sting you in life, use your trials as an opportunity to trust in Him like you never have before.   

I’ve learned is that my trials really help me realize God is indeed all I need. Nothing on this earth can satisfy my life, and when my circumstances are challenging I am reminded of this truth. There is much good to be found if we open our eyes to what God is doing.

Action Step Five: Seek Godly Counsel
I’ve made a lot of mistakes by making decisions on my own. Waiting on God is an important discipline, and not something I’ve always practiced. Now, before I make an important decision, I first seek God’s counsel in His Word.  Then I ask other Godly people that have a relationship with God that I respect.


Action Step Six: Review, review, and review
Finally, I like to just take a moment and just review with God. Many days, I don’t measure up to what I desire to be, so I reflect on my words and actions throughout the course of the day, asking God to mold me into His likeness. It is important also to review His faithful acts toward us. When I am discouraged, I take time to remember how He was faithful the day before, and I review His promises found in His Word. I’ve found I forget easily and need constant reminders of all God has done in my life. I’m often quite humbled how quickly I forget.

I don’t know what your relationship with God and others looks like at the moment, but I do know that our relationships are what matter to God the most. Perhaps you feel you don’t have time any extra time to give to your relationship with God. Or, maybe your stress level is off the charts, and your health is being compromised because of unrealistic expectations. You might be asking yourself, “Why don’t I feel the joy of the Lord anymore?” Whatever struggles you are facing, there is great encouragement ahead for you.

Based on Your Relationship with God, by Dr. Gary Smalley, Tyndale House Publishers, October 2006
Gary Smalley is president and founder of the Smalley Relationship Center and one of the country's best-known authors and speakers on family relationships.  His award-winning and best-selling books have sold over six million copies combined. He has appeared on national televisions programs such as "Oprah Winfrey", "Larry King Live", "Extra", "NBC Today Show" and has spoken to over two million people through his conferences and marriage seminars around the country. For more information about Gary Smalley and I Promise seminars schedule go to www.garysmalley.com