King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 23:7, “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is: eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee” (KJV). Another way to read this is, we are what we think about. For anyone who has spent time in the Bible, it’s no surprise that the wisest man to live pointed out this truth.
What we think about captures our attention, and what has our attention determines our action.
Try this exercise for yourself. Write down the two or three things that have your attention in life. What do you think about most these days? As they come to mind, look at how you are spending your time, money, or talents. It’s likely the resources God provides are being used to pursue what has your attention. We move in the direction of our strongest thoughts.
Unfortunately, if our direction is off course, it will impact our relationship with Christ. The apostle Paul provides powerful instruction in 2 Corinthians 10:5 when he writes, “We are destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
If taking every thought captive is an essential practice for the follower of Jesus, what is the best way to do it? Praise God that the answer is found in the pages of scripture.
In Colossians 3:2, Paul challenges the church to “set their minds on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” The King James translation uses the phrase, “set your affection” on the things above. It’s the practice of setting a specific direction; to think about; to savor. The encouragement is to savor and set a course for the things above.
So, what are the things above? Later in the chapter, starting in verse 12, Paul writes, “…put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
Paul describes the character traits that lead to an eternal mindset. In my own words, I read these verses like this: set your mind on the things above, which are compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love. Think about these things and how to reflect each of them today.
The practice of taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ is crucial to run the race with endurance. Satan wants to own our thinking so he can lead our lives. Unfortunately, he has been highly successful in today’s world.
However, the charge of taking our thoughts captive is the way we fight. When we set our minds on the things above, we will move in that direction, and the result will be reflected in our obedience to Christ.