every thought…hold it captive

I left off Monday with a question.

How do we do it??  How do we stop this perpetual jealousy/self-doubt/comparison trap that seems to come up every time we open a magazine or see that a friend has something we want.

How do we STOP this “stinking thinking?”

Some options:

1)  Take a solemn vow against all computers, televisions and magazines.  Wear your technology-chastity belt proudly.  Surely no jealousy will arise.  The belt is in place.

2)  Take a ball-point pen and gauge out your eyes.  Surely no jealousy will arise.  You can’t see anything.

3)  Masking tape over your ears, as to avoid your girlfriend telling your about her new million dollar mansion.  Surely no jealousy will arise.  Bonus – free ear hair waxing!

No.  These won’t work.

Try as we might, we can’t really change society.  Or our sinful nature.  We can lobby against magazine ads that portray super skinny women to be the norm.  We can tell our children to avoid those situations that bring up feelings of jealousy.  We can volunteer 1,982 hours of community service to our church – you know, so that God will release us from our sins.

I’m sorry, but none of that will really work.  Maybe for a second.  But not really.

TRUTH – It is in our very nature to compare, to judge, to sin, to be jealous.  To say that YOU can do anything to take yourself above this imperfection is incorrect.

And that’s why we need God.

(Cynics and unbelievers might roll their eyes at that statement.  And I suppose that is why they are cynics and unbelievers.)

We rely on Him to help us.  For HIM to make us better, and not ourselves.  Surely by now, we know that we cannot do this alone.  Surely.  I feel like I’ve fallen so many times before and it’s only when I give up my own ambitions to “fix it” that God starts working in and through me.  He fixes it.  He works through me.  It is only HE who can take the sin of jealousy, envy, greed, idolatry, etc from me.

Annette shared an amazing quote in her comment on yesterday’s post (that, ironically, I read WHILE writing this post):

“We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against SIN, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.” -Jeffrey Holland

How very true.

So back to the STINKING THINKING.  How can WE change it?  Surely we can do something!

First, the second that those negative thoughts pop into our heads, we must TAKE THEM CAPTIVE.


2 Corinthians 10:5 says this:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The progression would go something like this:

  • Thought pops.
  • Realize/recognize it.
  • Grab it.
  • Be done with it.

The thoughts WILL pop – that’s how it works. But it’s our job to take hold of them, recognize them for what they are (our sinful nature) and then push them out.  To do so takes AWARENESS and PRACTICE on our part.  You’ll get better with the “gun draw” on taking these thoughts and turning them around.  (<-side note – this was one way I overcame a 4 year addiction to purging!)



This will be a great first step.  You’re not asking for someone else to change what THEY’RE doing – you’re changing yourself.  Because really, we can only control ourselves in the end.  OUR thoughts, OUR words, OUR actions.

I believe this is what they call being an adult.

QUESTION:  Do you find it hard to “TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE”?  Do you find that it takes practice?


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  1. Pingback: Saturday Shares
  2. Wow. That quote! It’s so true! I’ve actually been doing a lot better with my judgmental/jealous thoughts lately after doing a bit of work on myself. I’ve noticed that on days where I am nicer to myself…respecting my body…and being proud of what God gave me, I am a lot less likely to jump to conclusions about others. You have to remember that you don’t know everyone’s story. Yes they might have a perfect figure, a great paying job with a company car, or a million dollar mansion, but WHAT did it cost them to get that? Are they happy? Are they truly satisfied in life? Just a few thoughts I find that help to bring things into perspective.

  3. This is a good word. And a good reminder of me. I have been lazy about taking thoughts captive lately, and it shows in my life and in my mental state.

  4. I love that thought, “Be done with it”… this could become quite a valuable spiritual practice, seriously, no matter what one’s faith (or non faith!)

    I’m glad I found you via SITSsharefest today!

  5. Wow, I really love this post. Lately, I’ve seen so many articles bashing social media and how it makes people compare each other too much. While I agree that social media offers a window into people’s lives that makes it seem “perfect,” comparing is a HEART problem. It’s not social media’s fault, but many want to place the blame on social media when it’s really their own problem.

    I agree that it’s terribly hard to take every thought captive, but when you invite God to be the watchman of your heart and mind, He WILL be there.

  6. Your idea of recognizing and “capturing” negative thoughts reminds me of a continuous activity we did while I was mentoring middle-school aged girls. We called it “zap that zinger!” and took it one step further than recognizing the negativity. Whenever the girls made a negative comment, they (or someone around them) would point it out with the catch-phrase. Then, they’d have to replace it with a positive message. It was fun, and it really worked wonders on getting the girls (both the middle-school girls and the mentors) to change their dialogue. :)

  7. I love what Heather wrote about adding a step that says “replace it”. There is little room for toxic thought when you fill your heart with gratitude for what you have been blessed with. And there is little room for toxic thought when you view yourself through the Savior’s eyes.

    I loved the quote from Jeffrey R. Holland, it’s a keeper.

    Thanks again for having a blog that gives me something insightful and worthwhile to read.


    What you wrote is so much of my mantra in life. In overcoming my own addictions and insecurities. And in my theory of counseling.
    When I was working to overcome my own eating disorder, what you mentioned above was a HUGE part of it. HUGE. Seriously. Can I add a fifth step to getting rid of those thoughts??

    1. Thought pops.
    2. Realize/recognize it.
    3. Grab it.
    4. Be done with it.
    5. REPLACE it!

    That fifth step is a deal-breaker for me. If I don’t choose a thought that is TRUTH to replace the LIES of stinkin’ thinkin’… those stinkin thoughts WILL find a way to creep back in. So I find TRUTH to directly counteract the LIES and use that truth to RENEW my mind (Romans 12:2)…. it’s really the last part of the verse you mentioned, “take captive every thought and MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST.” Making those thoughts obedient is about making them line up with truth!! :) So I can’t stop at pushing the thought out – I find the RIGHT thought to replace it so there’s no room for the WRONG thought to come back. And because scripture is my standard for TRUTH, that’s where I find it!!

    Stinkin Thinkin:
    “I look fat… no one could ever love me like this.”
    “I am fearfully and wonderfully made and beautiful in the eyes of the Lord. God says my life has value and worth. Therefore, I am lovable.” (Psalm 139:14; Luke 12:7)

    Stinkin Thinkin:
    “I can never forgive them for what they’ve done. They don’t deserve it.”
    “I have been forgiven, so I can choose to forgive others. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what they did was right. Forgiveness is about me and my heart before the Lord. Therefore, I will choose to forgive and trust God.” (1 John 1:9; Matthew 18:21-22)

    Also, often times stinkin thinkin is habitual. SO SO FRUSTRATING!!! So, if I’ve got a stinkin thought that comes back again and again, I’ll write out the counteracting TRUTH on a notecard, post it on my mirror, and read it outloud while I’m getting ready in the morning for at LEAST 28 days (the length of time it takes to break a habit). I know I sound TOTALLY extreme – but HEY! – this stuff saved my life!!!

    Now to get off my soapbox… sorry! Been thinking about this a LOT lately as I’m seriously in the middle of my own blog series about CHOICES and stinkin thinking!! :)

    And again…
    Love. Love. LOVE.

  9. This reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw on a car the other day… It said “just be nice.” It really hit me. Why do we judge other people and then mock them to our friends? Why do we think mean thoughts about other people – the way they dress, the way they do their hair, the way they run, etc. Why? What does that do for us? Nothing. I think “just be nice” every time I’m about to think or say something hurtful. I keep it to myself because I wish that’s how other people would treat me. I keep those negative thoughts captive.

  10. I have found that the closer I get to the Lord, and the more I truly understand His incredible love for me, the easier it is to accept myself and others completely. And He helps me take the thoughts captive. I can’t do it without constantly seeking Him! :)

  11. Beautiful and encouraging, my friend! It’s something that I strive for, but alas…sometimes the world and it’s ways get the best of me. All I can do is keep on trying and being thankful that I DO have someone to help me where I fall short.

  12. Easy to say, hard to do. But when we don’t take them captive, those thoughts fester and grow, choking God’s voice in our hearts, yes? This is truly what leads to all sin – just a thought that we allow to flourish. It certainly led to my eating disorder! But God always helps us with those thoughts when we ask Him! He is so faithful.”No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is FAITHFUL; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (! Cor. 10:13).

  13. This was great, Lindsay. I definitely recognize when I have thoughts about tearing others down and I stop, and think about why that was my initial reaction and what it really means about myself. I think it’s so important, as you said, to “capture” these thoughts and not to let them consume us.

  14. I love that quote too!!! :)

    And I agree-thought stopping or capturing the thought is important. However, I personally think that through God, our very natures can change and we can become more like Him & less carnal IF we’re willing to be humble/teachable/childlike and trust Him. When we spend more time with Him, we want to become like Him, and so we live more like Him–then our thoughts become better (not perfect), and we feel more power to resist different temptations or evil thinking of others.

    However, it IS a lifetime pursuit & happens over & over again, not just once & then we’re done. Good thoughts!

  15. Amen to this!!! Have you heard of the Beth Moore study Breaking Free? It has a whole large section about this that spoke to me so much. It’s why I now cart around a key ring with Bible verses now. Then HIS truth can be at the forefront and I can take captive thoughts against it. Not always easy, like you said, but worth the effort rest in the truth.

  16. I am actually reading “The Shack” right now and I feel a lot of what’s being said in it relates to this. We are in a symbiotic relationship with others, not a jealous, envious, or competitive one. If we let our thoughts wander to those feelings then we are pushing against the loving nature that God intended us to have – with both Him and our fellow beings. I think if we remember that we were born to love and that it truly is the only natural feeling we have, then we can begin to do as you’ve said – think it, recognize it, and be done with it.

    Thanks for starting this conversation – I think it’s a very timely and important one to have!

  17. I love this post. Taking every thought captive was how I too, was able to overcome and addiction to bingeing/purging. I like your thought about the fact that we can only change/control ourselves. My husband and I had a great discussion about this last night because I recently stuck my foot in my mouth in a big way and put a relationship I value very much on edge because of it. The whole episode got my husband and I discussing blogging in general and at the end of our conversation I said to him: “If blogging exaggerates one of my character flaws (worrying about what others think of me/desire for validation) then maybe I should stop doing it completely.” But his point was an action like that, although drastic doesn’t have a lasting impact: it doesn’t deal with the REAL issue. He also said it is not the Christian model. Christ gives us the example of God going INTO the midst man. Development of character we want comes from dealing directly with the situations that bring out our worst, not from escaping them.

  18. yes i definitely think itz hard to take every thought captive. i think changing our thinking is an incredibly difficult thing to do – if it were easy, we’d be different than we are! itz definitely something to work towards and something that IS possible! great post!

  19. I think “capturing every thought” is needed for most negative thinking — in the psychotherapy world it’s referred to as “thought stopping” and is a piece of cognitive behavioral therapy. I think this is an important part of leading a healthy, happy life. All of us have negative, sometimes ugly thoughts. The best thing you can do is figure out why that thought is popping up, and then as you say, be done with it and MOVE ON. This, of course, takes a ton of practice and is certainly not easy. Great post Lindsay.