Who is the Captive: Your Thoughts Or You?

Take Every Thought CaptiveLast week, I noticed I was feeling anxious. I’d been running the budget numbers again, trying to do accurate projections for what would happen when. We’re trying to sort out what we should do with our house, and when/if we should list it.

Normal things to think through in a time of transition. But I wasn’t just thinking, I wasn’t just running numbers; I was anxious.

We Americans are an anxious people. Medicines, counselors, self-help books, therapy sessions, and more exist in an attempt to counteract this problem. But let’s not kid ourselves: this is no new problem. The Israelites and the early Church were just as liable to anxiety as we are:

“Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong, fear not! Behold your God will come with a vengeance… He will come and save you.” ~Isaiah 35:4

“Do not be anxious about your life. …Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” ~Matthew 6:25

“The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things.” ~Luke 10:41

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6

As I repeatedly turned the situation over in my mind, churning like fast-flowing rapids, I heard God’s Word: “Take each thought captive in obedience to Christ.” One word stood out.


In my mind, I could see and hear Jack Bauer yelling, “WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?” to a captive he was questioning.

“Take every thought captive.”

Our minds are so easily taken captive by anxiety, gossip, lust, greed, rage, criticism, bitterness, envy.

But we can begin taking our thoughts captive in every moment.


When I was thinking about this issue of captivity, an image came into my mind of Jack Bauer, screaming at the top of his lungs, “WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?” He was questioning the captive, rather than the other way around.

Jack-BauerWhich happens in your mind?

  • Do your thoughts question YOU, telling YOU what to think about, stew over, and focus on?
  • Or are you taking your thoughts captive, purposefully stewarding your own mind, THINKING CAREFULLY?

Imagine if we, like Jack Bauer, began proverbially grabbing our thoughts by the collar, and with a good shake, asking, “WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?”

By examining my recent budget & planning anxiety, it becomes very clear who my thoughts were working for:

  • I was not at rest, trusting in Christ.
  • Instead of meditating on and KNOWING that “my God will supply every need through His glorious riches in Christ Jesus,” my heart was meditating on fear, turning over all of the “what if”s that have not even occurred.
  • It was as if my brain was searching under the couch cushions of life for things to worry about, rather than setting my mind on Christ & His utter dependability in every moment of my life.
  • Ultimately, I was believing that my brain– my figuring things over and over again, and my anxiousness over the situation– would bring about a better result than careful planning & restfully trusting in God.


No wonder I was anxious! 

So if I take that same thought process CAPTIVE “in obedience to Christ,” what does that mean my thoughts should look like:

  • My natural inclination, urging me to run the numbers even though I’ve run them before & now it’s past bedtime: “Hurry, hurry, hurry. It has to be done now. Run the numbers again. Find out NOW if you can make x scenario work.”
  • Me, realizing what’s happening, choosing to take my thoughts captive: “No. God is sovereign over our times. It is 1am and absolutely time for bed. Trust Him with this and rest. Remember- ‘You keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.’ and ‘Cast your burdens on the Lord, for He cares for you.’ Stop churning! God is in control of this too.”

What about you? What issues are holding you hostage, with you as the captive, rather than the other way around? 

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

What thoughts in your life do you need to grab by the collar and give a good shake?

What concerns in your mind need to be answered with the truth of Scripture, rather than being driven by the flesh?


Image courtesy of Naypong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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21 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    I struggled with this all last year. So much upheaval, so many changes … I couldn’t see how certain situations worked, or how the balance sheet came out in the black. For all my worrying, God’s plans were completely different than I imagined *anyhow*. None of my scenarios, cooked up in desperation in the middle of the night, ever even came to fruition. Wasted time. Lost sleep. But– a fresh perspective. It was a hard way to re-learn the lesson that God is sovereign, but much needed.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Heather, THIS:
      “None of my scenarios, cooked up in desperation in the middle of the night, ever even came to fruition.”

      Is SUCH a great reminder for us all.

      Thanks for chiming in.

  2. Candace Snow says:

    Totally relate. Sad that I can, but it’s true. Literally exactly relating. But, because of God’s goodness He has been patient with me to continue to accept the burden back even though I have given it to him a million times and keep trying to rip it back out of His hands. Thank you for the encouragement!

  3. Laura says:

    I really struggle with this in regards to my kids, and how I parent. I always focus on what I’m doing wrong and all I can see is the bad behaviour. It looms so largely in my mind and it sends me into a really dark spiral. Anyway, thanks for the boost of encouragement. It is so timely for me!

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’m so glad to hear from you. Glad that the post was applicable to your life in an entirely different area. I think it is a real tactic of the enemy to turn our feminine desire to shape the atmosphere of our home into a tightly-gripped idea of CONTROLLING the things around us. We have to strike the right balance between caring & being intentional, but not CLUTCHING the things around us with a tight & controlling attitude.

  4. Deborah says:

    I tend to worry. This post is exactly what I need to keep coming back to as a reminder to just stop and trust God. Thank you.

  5. Bethany says:

    I needed this. Thank you. :)

  6. Debbie Coleman says:

    I needed to read this also. I have made a big change in my life recently, and this whole past year has been full of questions, doubts, moments of worry. I also need to take my burden to the Lord. . . and leave it there, not pick it back up like a duffle bag, and carry it back with me again. I keep re-visiting things that should be put to rest. Good article.

    • Jess Connell says:

      It’s neat to hear from so many people who are dealing with the same issue (anxiety/stress) but in completely different areas.

      Yes, we need to put the duffle bag down and leave it with King Jesus.

  7. Jenny says:

    Perfect timing! I was just talking to my husband last night about how anxious and overwhelmed I felt about the coming school year (in Australia we have just started a new one this week after our summer break) after he had started talking about all the work travel he had coming up.

    And I realize that I’ve lost sight of God and am just looking at all the issues. So thank you for the nudge to refocus this morning, it came at just the right time for me!

    • Jess Connell says:

      So glad, Jenny. It is so easy for us to do what you said– “lose sight of God and just look at all the issues.”

      We miss the fact that HE is there right in the midst of it, and fully capable. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Elspeth says:

    Very timely Jess. Thank you.

  9. Travis says:

    Wow , I exactly needed that right now. Thank you Lord… & thank you Jessica.

  1. February 9, 2014

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  2. December 26, 2014

    […] ARTICLE: Who Is The Captive: Your Thoughts, Or YOU? “Our minds are so easily taken captive by anxiety, gossip, lust, greed, rage, criticism, […]

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    […] Want a great way to see what is influencing your thinking?—-> Keep a “Mental Food Diary” (And then control your thinking—-> Who Is the Captive? Your Thoughts? Or YOU?) […]

  5. November 18, 2015

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