What’s the difference between “Think and Grow Rich,” (Napoleon Hill) and “…Take Captive Every Human Thought…” (II Corinth 2:5)?
At first we think these two ideas have similar intent and support each other—we are what we think, right? However, if we look deeper into the origin and contexts of these two quotes we find they are recommending two radically different processes and goals. They are intended to and do produce opposite results.
Before and during the great depression Napoleon Hill, at the suggestion of his childhood friend Andrew Carnegie, spent twenty years studying the habits and methods of many of the richest, most “successful’ people in the world. His efforts were rewarded in 1937 with the publication of what was to become one of the best selling self-help books of all time: Think and Grow Rich.
Summary of Napoleon Hill’s “secret for Thinking and Growing Rich:
Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire.
Determine exactly what you intend to give for this money.
Establish a definite date by which you intend to acquire this money.
Create a definite plan to acquire the money, and take the first step immediately.
Put the four items above into a clear, concise sentence describing each part.
Read the statement aloud twice daily, in the morning and at night.
From website, Deconstructing Success
I’m not aware of any twenty-year study being done on the success rate of those reading this book, but what we’re interested in here is intent and possible goal. Obviously the intent is to use focused THINKING to bring into reality WEALTH—physical wealth.
Surely there has been at least one person somewhere who did succeed in becoming very wealthy and then died the same year they became rich! Hopefully you get the point.
Even phenomenal wealth in this life is temporary, temporal, fleeting and arguably does not bring peace of mind.
Mr. Hill seemed to avoid, ignore or be unaware of this “power of positive thinking” in the context of Christ’s teaching. Biblical “right thinking” is something altogether different. Focusing our thinking on “what is good and pure” is a biblical necessity for discovering the presence of God, but has nothing to do with worldly thinking.
One “Top 20” list has Think and Grow Rich as No. 7 on the all time best seller list. Right below it at No. 8 is The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. Right next to each other on the best seller list, they have the opposite message! Napoleon Hill’s book is concerned with manipulating the physical world by focusing our material thoughts, while modern Toltec, Miguel Ruiz says to abandon the world’s thoughts and symbols to find the peace and fulfillment of the eternal. Wait, isn’t that what Jesus taught?
In Philippians 2:5 we read, “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.”
And what was the Mind that was in Christ Jesus? Notice the capital “M” in Mind. That is necessary because Jesus was the embodiment of the divine Mind of God. With this perfect spiritual mind, Jesus could heal the sick, create plenty from lack and raise the dead. He wasn’t doing all this to impress people with his power—he was demonstrating the truth of Spirit—the Spirit that connects us to God—which is beyond worldly thought.
Jesus’ words in the New Testament teach us much about the importance of “changing our minds,” While His teaching has nothing to do worldly positive thinking, it has everything to do with rising above our perceived physical attributes and limitations to access the ever-present, eternal spiritual power and truth all around us.
As humans, the ideas of God, made in His “image and likeness,” we have never and could never lose our spiritual inheritance and connection to the God, Creator.
Our science has finally found matter (including us) to be not “matter” at all but some kind of energy, vibrating in thought-based “probability” .
Concerning matter, we have all been wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.
Jesus, 2000 years ago released “material” man from the false reality that we are matter and separated from God. He said, “Call no man father on Earth. You have but one Father in heaven”. For three years he daily demonstrated that the law of Spirit is above the laws of the world of the senses. He healed the sick, created plenty from lack and even raised the dead using only the higher truth of Spirit, Principle, Love, God--call it what you will.
Do not conform…to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that by experience you may have knowledge of the good and pleasing and complete purpose of God.
Which one of you by taking thought can add a single cubit to his stature?
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…7 Do you look upon things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s let him of himself think this again, that as he is Christ’s even so are we Christ’s.
2 Cor 10:5
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.
When Napoleon Hill spent twenty years studying all those wealthy tycoons, he must have assumed that what they had achieved was the pinnacle of human desire (as many do today). However, many have learned to look past “outward appearance” to experience peace and harmony right now—“in the world but not of it.”
Jim Gleeson can be reached through