A popular Bible verse that is a favorite for sermons and blog posts alike is 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says,
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
I attended a Christian high school and have been walking with the Lord since I was sixteen, so I’ve been familiar with this verse for decades. I’ve quoted it to struggling friends and have prayed it over myself during times of anxiety. It seems that taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ is the winning lottery ticket. Though I struggle with the application of it, that single act is the solution to all my struggles.
- When I compare myself to someone else ~ take every thought captive.
- When I compare my husband to another man ~ take every thought captive.
- When I focus too much on material possessions ~ take every thought captive.
- When I am struggling to forgive ~ take every thought captive.
- When I’m not content ~ take every thought captive.
- When I’m jealous ~ take every thought captive.
For your sake I stopped the list, but you get the idea. The command to take our thoughts captive is one we must not overlook, but as engrained as the concept is in my brain, I am still unsure how to accomplish it. When a thought enters my mind that does not line up with Scripture, I have two choices: dwell on it or rebuke it. Lately my thought life has been spinning out of control, leaving me exhausted from wrestling with my mind. The onslaught of bitter, negative, discouraging, impure, and selfish thoughts seems unending, out of my control, and unchangeable.
Near a point of sheer defeat, I begged God for help!
God answered my plea in a surprising way by asking me to scrapbook. Scrapbooking is my favorite hobby, but I rarely make time for it anymore. Needless to say, I was happy to oblige to this prompting. With a Diet Coke in one hand and worship music playing in the background, I stood over my paper and rearranged pictures from my daughter’s birthday party. Before I knew it, a few hours had passed, and I had several pages completed. Then the Lord decided my heart was ready to receive his message:
You focus too much on the past, the future, and people outside of your home. Your phone, TV, and computer are vehicles you use to transport your thoughts to where they should not go. And you wonder why you struggle to take your thoughts captive?! Notice how this evening your mind hasn’t once dwelt on the childhood wound you often reminisce about, nor have you thought negatively about anyone. You haven’t once been anxious about your future or to-do list. You’ve simply spent time with me and focused on your family.
That conversation happened late at night when my husband was working and the children were asleep. God asked me to scrapbook so I would not be near my TV, computer, or phone. He cleverly eliminated my triggers so I could realize taking my thoughts captive isn’t as difficult as I have always assumed.
For years, I believed this spiritual discipline (if you can call it that) is a defensive measure. Whenever an unholy idea enters my mind, I must wrestle it to the ground, and the cycle continues every day, hour, minute. Talk about exhausting! No wonder I’ve struggled with this. For me, wasting time on social media and daydreaming are my two primary areas of weakness. I use those times to fill my mind with comparisons, curiosities, and critical thoughts. Time spent idly lays a foundation that is fertile for toxic thoughts.
The reality is that 2 Corinthians 10:5 would be easier to live out if I approached it offensively. Taking our minds captive is active! I can’t merely wrestle my thoughts to the ground and expect success. I must eliminate the thought provokers in my life that aren’t godly in order to increase the venues that pave the way for holy thoughts. Filling my mind exclusively with God, his Word, and my family renders the anxious, selfish, and mean thoughts paralyzed in the doorway to my mind. They have little room to be dwelled upon simply because my mind is so full of positives. Paul speaks of this in Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.
I am grateful the Lord let me in on this important truth. Since then, I have been disciplined in limiting the negative triggers and choosing activities that encourage the traits in Philippians 4:8. The battle for my mind has certainly quieted down, and I am much more peaceful. If you have been struggling over the real estate of your mind, I encourage you to think offensively rather than just defensively!
Do you have any triggers that make it hard for you to take your thoughts captive? How can you combat those?
Sharing with Wifey Wednesday.