As a person thinks, so he is


Muddle-headedness is a human predicament, as Mr. Emerson informs Miss Honeychurch in E. M. Forster’s novel, A Room with a View (1908):

Take an old man’s word; there’s nothing worse than a muddle in all the world. It is easy to face Death and Fate, and the things that sound so dreadful. It is on my muddles that I look back with horror — on the things that I might have avoided. We can help one another but little. I used to think I could teach young people the whole of life, but I know better now, and all my teaching of George has come down to this: beware of muddle.

So, then, how do I become aware of muddle? Charles Bridges’ commentary on the biblical proverb offers a penetrating answer: “As a person thinks, so he is.” Consequently, I should think about my thinking: What preoccupies my thoughts? Which thoughts afflict me and console me? Following St. Paul’s logic, if I give my thoughts to “the pattern of this world,” I will be deformed and muddle-headed; whereas, if I give myself to God as “a living sacrifice,” then I will be “transformed by the renewing of [my] mind” (Romans 12.1-2). Put differently, “yes” to the world is “no” to mental clarity and contentment.

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