We…….take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV

Do you ‘vet’ your thoughts? That is, (per dictionary.com,) do you appraise, verify, or check for accuracy, authenticity, suitability’ every idea or notion that flits across you mind?

I haven’t, up until now!  For decades I have simply lived with my thoughts or tried to distract myself from thinking.

Out of curiosity I checked to see if anyone had studied just how many thoughts the average person entertains in a day.  One report I found mentioned 6,000 as the mean.  Okay….so?  Well, up until recently, I would have concluded that this research is merely trivial.  For I’ve never viewed my thoughts as more than somewhat interesting perhaps, or mostly banal, but certainly harmless.  But is that true?  Paul would disagree.

In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul brings up the concept of war when he reminds them and us to avoid living according to worldly standards. With that startling introduction of something totally unexpected, the apostle then exhorts them (and again, us) to evaluate our thoughts in terms of life and death, hence the warfare context.

Picture a stranger hanging around a castle’s perimeter, or maybe even walking alone inside the wall. Wouldn’t soldiers grab and interrogate him? Wouldn’t they determine his intention?  For all they know, he could be a spy for the enemy, maybe even a sleeper agent masquerading as one of them. Taking this dude captive and interrogating him would be initial steps before deciding what to do with him. Depending on what they learn, they would decide their next course of action:  execute, imprison, enslave, release or absorb him into that kingdom’s army.

Likewise, I am slowly realizing that I can actually STOP and examine my thoughts.  I must pause long enough to capture them to evaluate whether they align with the cause of our King.

The enemy is expert in disinformation and deception. Let’s call it for what it is. Satan and all his army of foul spirits are skilled in lying. Think of his conversation with Eve.

The devil or serpent planted a piece of false intelligence, the ‘thought’ that God was holding back on them, that he was neither really good or loving. You know the results. Satan learned how effective a bit of dis- or misinformation could be.

He has not changed how he operates since that first garden victory. Our deadly enemy’s ‘modus operandi’ is to do anything to cause us assume two facts:  that the ideas we receive come from us and that they are true.  But a lot of what we think about is NOT true and some of our conclusions have their source in the supreme Liar.  That is why we must stop and examine our thoughts, especially the ones that might trigger strong emotional reactions, whether fear, shame, anger, lust, envy or jealousy.  

Back to our castle image: picture feeling a bit uneasy as you notice a stranger around the fortified city of the king. As an observant watchman or armed guard (and we all are God’s combatants per Paul), you might feel a certain suspicion of danger.

How do I know this stranger, this ‘thought’, is a friendly or in reality a foe planning hostile action?  By grace, we have the King’s battle plan, plus the written history of warfare up to this day and best of all, open-door access to the Lord of the Castle. We can check with him any time.  It might look like this: “Jesus, is what I’m thinking actually true?  What do you think? What do you want me to know?”

The shift I want to make, the new practice I’m trying to implement is Paul’s way of living, based on what God declares about himself in Isaiah 55:8  …..my thoughts are not your thoughts….. (ESV). That implies that Maria’s thoughts are not always God’s thoughts.  Of course, we will never have access to ALL of the LORD’s thoughts. But we do have enough of them to recognize the source.

It’s going to take me a while to make pausing and asking Jesus more automatic. That’s true of any habit we want to form. But I am highly motivated. Each day, I believe more and more that we are in a battle for life with an enemy whose goal is to neutralize us or kill us, whichever works best for him.