I've been doing quite a bit of thinking and praying about the idea of taking our thoughts captive as Christians. What does the Bible say? Look at Philippians 4:9 with me...
"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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
There is so much here, it's not even funny. The end is the clincher for me though. I will have the peace of God if I practice thinking this way. What way? I believe we cannot classify our thoughts by looking at just one category. Yes, something may be true, but if its not also pure, lovely and praiseworthy I shouldn't be dwelling on it.
My thoughts control my life. I think more so since I am a writer and words are constantly rolling around in my head. Add to that, the fact that I am a woman and you'll know there are more than enough thoughts running through my head at any given moment.
So What to do with thoughts that don't make it on God's list? Thoughts of anger, frustration, jealousy, sorrow, loneliness and the like. I have to remember the end of the above verse. If I practice what the Lord would teach me, then I will be at peace. If I dwell on things I shouldn't then it should be of no great surprise that I do not have peace. Have you ever tried to be frustrated with someone and be at peace at the same time? I can honestly say I have tried, but it doesn't work.
If someone offends me, even if I am justified in being hurt, I have a choice to make.
I can hold onto the hurt and be miserable, or I can let it go and be at peace.
Some days I can do this better than others. Today, I am kicking myself for not being careful enough with my words. In my haste to communicate my "thoughts" I hurt someones feelings and now I feel bad. I have asked for forgiveness, but I keep thinking things like, "what if I had said this, or changed that..."
I realize now as I am writing this down that I have not taken my thoughts captive.
So here it goes. Although it is true that I spoke in haste, it is more true that the Lord has given me the opportunity to ask for forgiveness.The excellent and praiseworthy result from my mistake is that the Lord is a God of restoration and He allows me to make it right with the person I hurt. I am so thankful that I do not have to walk through this life alone and sad. I am thankful for the truth that Jesus loves me and is right in everything He is and does. I can practice being purposeful in my speech and tender with my words.
Peace is worth humbling myself before the Lord and the people He puts in my life.
Last thought. I had a friend once who was encouraging me to take my thoughts captive and she remarked that in order for you to remove a "bad" thought completely, it needs to be replaced with a good thought. I find that very true. What works for me is praise and thanksgiving. I cannot be upset and thankful at the same time. It's OK that my list starts out stupid. "thank you for the car I drive" or "thank you that I can see". Don't get me wrong. Those things are great, but when I'm made or hurt I need to simply start thanking the Lord for everything I can. Funny, just in the speaking of thankfulness my heart softens and peace begins to flood in... If I cannot think of anything to be thankful for (which has happened on occasion) then I begin quoting scripture and praying the verses...
What works for you? I know I'm not the only Christian who has battled taking thoughts captive...