Soul care is as much a matter of the mind as it is a matter of the heart. Nothing gains access to our hearts before first being given entrance through our minds. Fear, anxiety, despair, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and hate all start in our minds and find their ways to our hearts. There they take hold and are incredibly difficult to root out.
Think of your mind as a large house. Negative and destructive thoughts arrive at your front door every day, sometimes every minute. When given entry, they find a quiet corner in a back room and take up residence. There they begin to fester and grow until one day our house is overrun with the garbage that the enemy has thrown at us, and to which we have listened to our own detriment.
The Apostle Paul has a remedy for this situation. In 2 Corinthians chapter 10 he says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” (v. 5)
The image is of a strong man standing at the front door of our minds. As negative and destructive thoughts arrive, sent from the enemy to destroy us, this strong man grabs them and binds them and will not let them enter until they have been “made obedient to Christ.” Imagine what fear, what anxiety, what anger, what bitterness and what dread we would escape if each were taken captive before they entered our minds and were transformed into thoughts that reflected the love, the power, the mercy and the grace of God.
What destructive thoughts are haunting your mind? What negative, soul-destroying attitudes and ideas are hiding away in your house? As leaders it is critical that we practice the daily, sometimes hourly discipline of praying that the Holy Spirit would be the strong man at the door of our minds, and that no thought would ever enter that has not been taken captive and made obedient to Christ.
Perhaps this is why Paul says later, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things… and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4: 8-9) In Romans he calls us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (12:2) He later assures us that “we have the mind if Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Paul also promises us that if we will present everything to God in trust and prayer, that “ the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
It is the words of our Lord that should ring the loudest as we consider the soul care of our minds. Jesus calls to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind.”
To love God with all our minds is to have the mind of Christ, and to meditate on those things that bring us peace. To love God with all of our minds requires that we allow the power of the Spirit to guard our minds, that we put the strong man at the door and take captive every thought. As we do, our minds are renewed, our souls are kept safe, our hearts are kept pure and we become more useful in the work of the kingdom of God wherever we are called.