In 2 Corinthians 2:10 there lies what feels like one of the most difficult verses in the Bible. While so many of God’s instructions focus on our actions, which, granted, are hard enough some days, this command cuts through all of our shallow, surface level obedience, and gets at our heart. It tells us to, not just follow Christ, but to “take every thought captive to obey Christ…”
Every thought! Again we see that God doesn’t want us to just do a job. He doesn’t just want our actions, He wants us, all of us, to be aligned with Christ.
Yet, how many times have I said the right thing while thinking judgmental thoughts? Or grumbled inwardly while still doing a chore? Or worried through a problem, no matter how much I might have looked like I was trusting Christ?
Even when we are able to do the right things, sometimes our thoughts are hard to control. They seem to bounce in from nowhere and bounce back out unexpectedly.
But we can’t just let our thoughts free rein in our hearts and minds. The Bible tells us that those silent little thoughts can do a lot of damage to our hearts.
Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
So how are we supposed to get a handle on such a flighty, yet persistent part of ourselves?
Here are 6 practical ways to keep our thoughts centered on Christ, no matter what we may be doing or going through:
Our God is a personal God. He wants to help us grow. So when 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you,” that includes our thoughts. If you are struggling with insurmountable worry or thoughts that you know don’t please the Lord, talk with Him about it. He cares.
And then we can use prayer to help direct our thoughts, too. Pray through a prayer list or a directory from your church. Pray through the names in a phone book. Every time you are tempted to think unkind thoughts or worrisome thoughts, pray for someone else. It is amazing the difference that can make on an outlook.
2. Read or memorize Scripture.
Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” God’s Word is a beautiful place to find such encouraging, uplifting words to think on.
Sing praises to the Lord. Sing upbeat songs about His goodness and mercy. Songs have a way of sticking in your head and changing your thought patterns like nothing else.
Look at the book of Psalms, and all of the praises the authors there used to encourage themselves in the Lord!
4. Stay away from temptation.
There are things we can do and places we can go that tempt us to start thinking wrong thoughts, just like any other wrong choice.
For me, this often means social media. Some days, I really struggle with envy when I log on, so on those days, I just have to keep myself off of it. It’s not worth it if it is going to take my eyes off of Christ.
5. Start a spiritual conversation with someone.
Sometimes it is really hard to fight thoughts on your own. Find someone else to go talk to and start a conversation that fits those descriptors from Philippians 4:8. Having someone depend on you to hold up your end of the conversation, while also helping to point your thoughts in a more Christ-honoring direction, can really help you turn your thoughts around.
It all comes back to Romans 12:1-2, which says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Our thoughts are a chance to worship our Lord and to give over our whole selves to His perfect plan for our lives. Let’s be transformed in our minds by the renewing that comes from God’s Word and from a deep relationship with Him. I think we’ll be amazed how much taking those thoughts captive will affect every aspect of our lives.
Meredith is the wife of an amazing husband, a student teacher to some goofy 1st graders, an avid reader and baker, and a servant of the King of Kings. She blogs at The Wicket Gate, a project started with her husband to help Christians see every moment in life, big or small, through the lens of Biblical truth.