“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” II Corinthians 10:5Today's Reading: I Corinthians 10; Psalm 91
Confessions: I struggle with my imagination. I’m not a creator of worry like some people, true. However, when it comes to what I think others think of me, I’m totally guilty.
There is rarely a time when I don’t come away from a conversation, or stretch of fellowship time, that I don’t second guess something (if not everything) that I said. Usually not because I doubt the validity of what I said. Rather, because I doubt the acceptance by the people hearing what I said. In fact, more often than not, I find myself tossing and turning on my bed reviewing every word spoken, every facial expression, every comment…until finally, I give it up to God.
I never used to be like that. I used to have a conversation and rarely worry about how another would take it. Not anymore. Is it a consequence of a society that has gone to the extreme over offenses? Perhaps some of that. Is it because I have been told some many times that people hate me or hate what I say or told me that I am such a terrible unlikable person? Yup, that has a lot to do with it. But irregardless of how people have reacted to me, I have to take full responsibility for my own thoughts.
I cannot read minds. So, when I imagine what others are saying or going to say or think, I’m probably lying to myself. Certainly, I am not speaking truth in my heart. And, in fact, shamefully thinking evil (well, not right thinking at any rate) of the very people I’m accusing of thinking evil of me!
So therein lies the crux of the matter. When I think about what others think, I’m not right thinking.
That doesn’t excuse me when I do bring offense and am aware of the other person's reaction. But let's be real here: offenses will come.
“Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Matthew 18:7
Here’s another thought: when we take offense, or give offense, we are exalting that ‘offense’ above God. If we know God, and we know His Word, we’ll know that He controls all things. And because of that, we are safe in His hands when we submit to Him.
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165
To worry or take offense means we’re not trusting God’s control over the situation, over how a person responds to us, over evil spoken or done to us.
So, better I let go of those worries. Better I cast out those imaginations. Better I bring those thoughts into captivity that would cause me to doubt God’s control over the outcome of my conversations.
While keeping my mouth shut in most circumstances would solve a lot of problems, better I lean into God and let His Holy Spirit guide my words. Then I must trust that whatever the outcome is, He’s got me.
What about you? Does your imagination run off with you and hold you captive? In those moments, is it possible for you to school your thoughts to focus on trusting God--on His promises, protection, and provision?
For further reading, consider Jeremiah and how God helps him deal with the situations he faced. Read Jeremiah 15:10-21; 16:1-17:18; 29:11-13.
“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16