Our Thoughts vs Our Ways
“A man may arrange his thoughts, but what he says depends on the LORD.” Proverbs 16:1
Scripture teaches many things that are counter-intuitive. This is one of them: God determines what you say. You may determine what you think about, but God determines what happens next. Solomon also said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”1 Because Judas entertained evil thoughts concerning the Savior, God incited him to execute them. In this verse God says He also determines what a person says.
My mother warned her children to guard their tongues, for words once spoken can never be rescinded. The problem with words is, they lodge in the minds of those listening, and at the most inopportune time return to the memory with disturbing effect. Solomon warned that the only way you can control your tongue is to control your thoughts. When you think about something you cannot guarantee that you will not say what you think.
Thus Proverbs contains an astonishing truth: We are responsible for our thoughts, but based on them, God determines what we say. Our instincts may suggest otherwise, but this is what God promises. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”2 Because our words reflect our thoughts, God will judge us, in part, on the basis of our words: “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”3
1 Proverbs 23:7
2 Matthew 12:34
3 Matthew 12:36