Mindset. There's nothing more powerful in producing change, staying the course, creating fear, feeding resentment. You see, mindset is a powerful thing. It can be used for good or for evil. So it's no surprise that in 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul encourages us to "take captive every thought".
As a mental health therapist I encourage my clients to pay attention to their thoughts; their self-talk because I understand that our thoughts are very powerful. We allow ourselves to either ruminate on the negative or the positive. We do have a choice in the matter and that is important to consider.
Paul takes this bit of instruction one step further. He says, "take captive every thought and make it submissive to Christ." I ask myself, what does this look like, to submit my thoughts to Christ? And the following is the process my mind took as I pondered that question.
If I am going to submit to Jesus, I want to understand who Jesus is. Now this question in and of itself could consume blog posts galore. There is so much to fleshing out that question. For the sake of brevity I'll just use a few Scriptures. Jesus Himself said, "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14: 6.
Paul said of Jesus in Colossians 1:15, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or power or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him."
It is part of the classic Christian tradition to understand Jesus as God. I love this because the Bible talks about God and says that He is love. Not that he is loving, but that God=Love. (I John 4:8). If Jesus is God and God is love, it stands to reason Jesus=Love.
To this point, as I understand and reason it, I am to submit my thoughts to Love. Submit meaning to accept or yield to a superior force, to become subject to a particular process, treatment or condition. I want Love in my life. I want the treatment that Love would give.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I Corinthians 13:4-8.
I want to submit my thoughts to patience and kindness. I want my life to be ruled by a superior force that honors others and keeps no record of wrongs. If I want this, I must take captive every thought. I must lay it down, those self-seeking, anxious, angry thoughts and choose a better way. I will lay down those thoughts, turn from the road of negativity and follow the path of Love.
We do not control the thoughts that pop into our head minute-by-minute but we do have a choice as to what we allow ourselves to ruminate and meditate on. Where are we going to allow our thoughts to "live"? Will we continue down the path of negativity and anxiety or will we choose a different road, one of peace and beauty and truth?
Philippians 4:8 says, "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."
Our thoughts impact our physical, spiritual and emotional lives. Anyone who struggles with anxiety knows how it feels in the body, in the mind and in the soul to be fearful. Our body holds our emotions so well and often when we do not even realize it. We may have an ache or pain that is unrelenting and don't realize that it is a lingering negative emotion. Our souls can become overwhelmed, weary or weak because of the inundation of negative thoughts or feelings. This makes Paul's words even more powerful: take captive every thought.
What we focus on in our thought world becomes our reality. It is what fills our heart. Proverbs 4:23 warns: "Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." Not only that but what we allow to fill us, to become our reality, then spills out onto others and not just strangers but sometimes critically impacting the ones we love for "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks". Matthew 12:34.
So circling back to our original question: what does it look like to take captive every thought and make it submissive to Christ? It is to remain vigilantly aware of our thoughts, to take each one and yield it to Love, to accept that treatment of kindness and patience, to allow that process to wash over us and penetrate our being so that the words and actions that come forward reflect the very same. Taking captive every thought and submitting it to Christ makes us better people, kinder, more generous and more loving. I want that.
Do you want that?
I hope I've made the point clear and that you've found it helpful. It is not a difficult work for us. It simply requires our awareness. The burden of the "process", the responsibility for "change" is with Love. We only need to choose Love to begin the treatment.