Similiar Proverbs in Ancient Chinese and the Bible - Man Proposes and God Disposes

'Man proposes and God disposes' is a common saying in English. It can be inferred from Proverbs such as 16:9 and 19:21. Ancient Chinese has an equivalent saying as in 谋事在人,成事在天”.
'Man proposes and God disposes' is a common saying in English. It can be inferred from Proverbs 16:9 and 19:21.
  • Pro 16:9  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. 
  • Pro 19:21  Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. 
  • Pro 16:1  The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Ancient Chinese has an equivalent saying as in “谋事在人,成事在天”, Planning belongs to the man, but God determines its success. If you use Google translator, it gives you exactly, 'Man proposes, God disposes'.  The source of the Chinese statement comes from the book "History of the Three Kingdoms".(明·罗贯中《三国演义》第一百三回). The source is actually longer, "谋事在人,成事在天”,不可强也。It has an additional phrase of 'one cannot force it'. 

What can we learn from it? 
  1. God's way and plan overrides man's plans.
    • Pro 21:30  No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD. 
  2. It is better at the very start to consult God as to His will and plan. 
    • 1Pe_2:15  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 
    • 1Jn_3:23  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 
    • Pro 3:5-8  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  (6)  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
  3. The very least is to stay in the path of righteousness and turn away from evil.
    • Prov 3: (7)  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  (8)  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
  4. It does not teach us to just do nothing and not to plan at all. No planning and doing are laziness that will lead to poverty. We are created for good work, to be the salt and light.
    • Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 
    • Mat 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    • Augustine has a quote, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you". 
We can perhaps change it to , God will it and man follows it counting also on the grace of God that enables me to Php 4:13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me

Joh 15:16  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Lim Liat (c) 24 Dec 2013

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