Do you ever think about what you’re thinking about? What sort of thoughts appear in your mind on a regular basis? How do these thoughts match up to biblical standards? And can you change the way you think?
Take Your Thoughts Captive
I’m slowly learning how to take my thoughts captive. I’ve read this verse probably over a dozen times in my lifetime, but only recently has it really planted itself in my heart. Thoughts are a big deal. Thoughts lead to actions — perhaps not always, but every action certainly comes from a thought, no matter how fleeting. So, doesn’t it make sense to adjust our thoughts to the way we would like to act? Through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, God directs us to take every thought captive. What does this mean? Well, this is how I’ve been trying to apply it to my life. And believe me, it takes work. It definitely does not come naturally.
On a regular basis, I try to stop and think about my thoughts. I’m capturing my thought, rather than letting it just slip through my brain. But taking the thought captive cannot be where it ends. We must analyze that thought and compare it with God’s Word. According to Philippians 4:8, God desires us to focus on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, reputable, virtuous, and praiseworthy. I am learning to use this verse as a filter for my thoughts. When I capture a thought, I think to myself, “Is this thought true, honest, just, pure, lovely, reputable, virtuous, and/or praiseworthy?” If it’s not, then I must let that thought go.
How Do You Let a Thought Go?
But it’s not that easy, right? Especially for those of us who have tendencies to obsessively dwell on anxious thoughts, we can’t simply let a thought go because it keeps coming back, unwanted. This is why we need to replace the unwanted thought with a good thought. Specifically, we need to replace it with scripture. This is where Bible memorization comes in handy. If you have a specific, ungodly thought that you find floating through your mind on a regular basis, look up a Bible verse that pertains to that ungodly thought. Then write down that verse and put it somewhere where you will see it often. Repeat that verse to yourself on a regular basis, and commit it to memory. Then, every time that ungodly thought pops up, shift your thoughts to that scripture instead.
Replacing Ungodly Thoughts with Scripture
As my readers know, I struggle with anxiety. Sometimes I obsess over anxious thoughts for hours, to the point of paralysis. For example, sometimes I think something like this: “I’m not strong enough. I don’t know how to make this work. I don’t know what to do.” Notice how I’ve focused these thoughts on my abilities rather than on the abilities of the Almighty God. When these thoughts arise, I must take them captive and replace them with truth, such as Psalm 31:24 — “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” Now, through God’s Word, I’ve shifted my focus to Him. As I read, memorize, and recite this verse over and over — and as I consciously choose to believe it and act upon it — it becomes much easier to quickly replace my old thoughts with God’s truth.
(For more verses to replace anxious thoughts, see my post entitled “5 Verses to Battle Anxiety.”)
Can You Change the Way You Think?
So, can you change the way you think? Can you make your thoughts consistently true, honest, just, and pure? Not in your own power. But God can, through His Word and His Holy Spirit. I encourage you to challenge yourself this week to take every thought captive. Ask God for His guidance and strength to do this, and feel free to share your experience in the comments below.