Taking Your Thoughts Captive: The Antidote to Stinking Thinking

Taking Your Thoughts Captive: The Antidote to Stinking Thinking

“Left unattended, our brains can be dangerous places!” Boyd Bailey, The Spiritual Life of a Leader

Early in grief, I wrote about confused thinking. My perceptions and thoughts were warped and distorted. Your thoughts, too, will be a bit crazy. It’s especially true the more shocking your experience of loss. Shocking loss plays games with your mind. You learn your thoughts, left to themselves, run in all sorts of directions and if anyone knew what you were thinking at the time, they would be concerned for you. In essence, you’re dealing with stinking thinking.

I remember thinking within hours of Kim’s death that I could walk out the door of my house, drive to the airport, move to Africa again, and people probably wouldn’t know I had done it. To be clear, the crazy part was not about moving to Africa, but that I thought no one would have known I had done it. As an aside, moving to Africa was one of the most wonderful decisions we ever made as a family. But I digress…

I had recurring thoughts on a few occasions that if I just stood firm in this test that all would return to normal after some undetermined time. Secretly, without any real or valid confidence, I had this idea that returning to normal meant everything would return to how it had been. Including Kim back in full health. Not helpful thinking at all.

In fact, it is stinking thinking.

You need to take your thoughts captive. All the time but definitely during grief.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5

There are arguments and opinions circling in your mind that are not healthy. It’s that simple. It’s also that complicated. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 10:5, warns against knowledge that is raised up against God. Your wild and distorted thoughts may not be arguments or opinions aimed against God and his righteous ways, but they can most assuredly cause you to miss the mark of wisdom. You need to patiently wait for emotional healing; but in the meantime, you need to take your thoughts captive.

Take every thought captive to obey Christ.

If you back up a couple of verses for context, you learn that Paul is speaking of spiritual warfare—waging war and destroying strongholds.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

So, while this is a different context than the confusion of grief, my experience taught me that you’re vulnerable to mistakes. Look around and you will see men and women who made mistakes based on stinking thinking after major loss.

I am grateful I was surrounded by men who counseled me. I am grateful to the grace and mercy of God. Biblical lament begins with turning to God and ends with trust.

“Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.” Psalm 119:5-6

In the context of steadfast ways and not being put to shame, you can cleanse your mind from silly myths (1 Timothy 4:7) or other stinking thinking. I found that exposure to God’s Word and quiet time in God’s presence clarified—and captivated—my thoughts.

“A pure mind grows from our intimate encounters with Jesus.” Boyd Bailey, The Spiritual Life of a Leader


  1. Seth

    Rich, powerful, and an amazing encouragement for me today. Thank you D Ray.

    • D. Ray Davis

      You are welcome, Seth. Thank you, brother!

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