“I couldn’t help but think …”
I’ll be the first to admit it – I’ve said this! Something stimulated one of my senses and it felt like my mind ran off on its own without my permission. But is that really true? Do our minds “have a mind of their own”? Is there really nothing we can do but let them race away, unchecked?
As in every area of our lives, the Bible has some important things to say about this subject. Allow me to peruse through a few.
Proverbs 23:6-8 – Don’t eat at the table of a stingy person or be greedy for the fine food he serves. 7 “Come on and have some more,” he says, but he doesn’t mean it. What he thinks is what he really is. 8 You will vomit up what you have eaten, and all your flattery will be wasted. [Good News Bible]
Wise Solomon here speaks of a man who says one thing while he’s thinking something else entirely. The key is at the end of verse 7: “What he thinks is what he really is.” I’m starting with these verses to establish how important our thinking is. We’re all adept at putting on a false facade; but the thoughts, the attitudes, that come out of our hearts, they represent the real us! As uncomfortable as that can be, it is the absolute truth.
II Corinthians 10:4, 5 – For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
[New King James Version]
As believers in our Lord Jesus we have been given “weapons” or instruments to help us deal successfully with the realm of thoughts, attitudes, imaginings, etc. Notice specifically verse 5: “casting down arguments.” For “arguments” other translations have “reasonings” or “imaginations”. When we add to this the thought “Bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” we’re clearly being told to stop thinking, reasoning or imagining anything that does not comply to who we are now in Christ!
Returning to my premise, it cannot be true that “I couldn’t help but think …” if the Bible tells me not to think certain things. God would be unfair to require us to control our minds if we are incapable of doing so!
One more verse, Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. [New King James Version]
In II Corinthians 10:5 we were told what NOT to think. Here we’re told the opposite – these are things we should think or meditate on. It’s interesting to me that the word “arguments” in II Corinthians 10:5 is the noun form of the same word translated “meditate” (a verb) in Philippians 4:8. And again, since the Bible tells us not only thoughts to cast away but thoughts to embrace, it must be in our power to do just that.
No doubt our minds need to be retrained. They can be like unruly children, involved in all kinds of mischief. But we can reel them in and train them to obey. An important principle in the New Testament is “the renewing of the mind.” You, your Bible and the Holy Spirit can get that unruly child retrained.
So, don’t give in to “I couldn’t help but think …” Take control by the instruments you’ve been given. You’ll be glad you did!