One of the coolest things God did when He created man, was to give man an imagination. An imagination is an amazing thing, and it is capable of, well, amazing things of it’s own. God’s creativity is, of course, unrivaled, but isn’t it a blessing to you when you see a beautiful painting, or a graceful dance, or hear a beautiful musical score? It is to me. I marvel at the God who put such potential of ability into a person. Unfortunately a lot of people marvel at the creation rather than the Creator. No human has anything that was not given to him by God. Our imagination and all of its potential, is given to us by God, just like our ability to work, and all the potential prosperity that comes with that.
The ability to imagine is certainly one of the things that sets humans apart from animals. The ability to imagine is what spurs every great discovery, invention, cure, revolution, every accomplishment, really!
But imagination has an ugly flipside to it! A dark side, if you will. That flipside can lead to a lot of issues and problems. Many if not most folks tend to latch onto something that worries them, and extrapolate various scenarios and then proceed to worry about the imagined scenarios. Some people are aware of this and they strive to counter-act it and nip it in the bud. But others are world-class champions at projecting via the imagination all sorts of potential and future things to worry about. Also the same principle often applies with anxiety-provoking events that are done and over with in the past!
I have to admit, I am guilty on both counts. But I also am one of those who is aware of my weakness and I work to redirect my thoughts. Feelings follow thoughts, so if a person can corral their thoughts, they can manage their feelings and emotions to a much greater degree.
Vain imaginations lead to unnecessary anxiety over one’s future, while recalling/reliving stressful and unpleasant experiences from the past, leads to resentment which taints the present in a real way. The body doesn’t make much distinction between real experience and “make believe” or remembered experiences.
I am tackling this topic not because I am an expert in conquering this issue, but rather precisely because it is an area in which I struggle and because I know truth and honesty, even with one’s own self, are the “safest road” to travel. When we have resentment in our spirit over something in our past, or even present, something perceived as a slight or an offense, or some unquestionably evil assault we have endured, that resentment will permeate our spirit, erode our judgment, and short-circuit our self-control, and lead to much worse damage in and of itself, over time.
Resentment is an odd bird. Resentment springs from a perceived slight or “robbery” if you will. Someone has demonstrated a lack of common consideration, a lack of love, a lack of loyalty, a lack of recognition of ones inherent value as a human being. Resentment follows the detraction.
But what is resentment, when you get down to the root? It is anger fed and kept alive in your imagination and memory. It is anger acknowledged repeatedly, or unceasingly, and waxed bitter. There is a resentment that is born of a conscious and intentional holding on, and then there is also a resentment that is fostered by circumstances completely outside of one’s control, but resentment has the same effect, regardless of it’s source of origin, and the choice can still be proactively made, to release the hold of resentment toward the offender. But it requires intent, and determination.
I think that an ever-present notion of having been deprived of something we deserve, or having been judged undeserving of something fundamental that we genuinely need, contributes to all sorts of self-defeating and destructive “drives” in us.
We yearn, but can’t soothe. We “stuff” other things into ourselves, in a misguided attempt to fill the void. Food, compulsive shopping, mood-altering drugs, drinking, “blissing out” to mood-altering music, or what have you.
The effected individual walks around with a constant “tooth-ache-like” discomfort that chafes and torments looking for comfort or at least distraction, in whatever form readily accessible.
A child who is neglected as an infant, sometimes grows up with an overwhelming and over-arching case of this resentment. And it is so deeply seeded in the very core of them, that they don’t even understand where it came from and don’t even know that it is pathological and may not even be aware of it in themselves, yet it will draw trouble to them, and compound their misery and dissatisfaction in life. It becomes a handicap, an Achilles heel. Satan knows this and will exploit it to the fullest of his ability to wreak further havoc in that life.
Others develop the resentment as a consequence and “side effect” if you will, of the circumstances of their individual life choices, disobedience, what have you. It is a problem much more common than people realize. As a rule, the worse case of resentment a person suffers with, the less self-aware they probably are about it. Like all deviations from God’s purposes and designs, this eventually brings blindness and confusion. All sin degrades. We are to be angry and sin-not. But we are commanded to love and forgive. If we don’t forgive, we cannot love.
This is the reason God tells us in His Word to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when our obedience is fulfilled.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, lets look at the individual pieces.
Imaginations is the translated word for logismos, which means computation or reasoning.
High thing is translated for the word hupsoma which means altitude or barrier.
Exalteth itself /epairo/ to raise up
Against/kata/ before, beyond, exceeding, more excellent than, (denotes opposition)
the knowledge of/gnosis/the act of knowing
Putting that together:
Cast off your (own) speculation and every barrier or obstacle that crops up to oppose what you know to be true by God’s own revelation of Himself (His Word).
What has God said?
Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord….. Fret not because of the evildoers, neither be envious against the workers of iniquity, for they shall be cut down like the grass… for I say to every man among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought….for the last shall be made first, and the first last…… humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.
God is telling us to line our thoughts up with what the Bible says about Him, about justice, and about ourselves and our own nature, and to toss out and reject anything that contradicts that.
Bringing into captivity/aichmalotidzo/make captive or subdue
Every/pas /All manner of, + always + ever (all as in ALL inclusive, never-endingly, on an ongoing basis which requires continuous adherence)
Thought/noema/perception, disposition (mood, frame of mind)
To the obedience/hupakoe/submission
Putting that together:
Always rein-in every thought, subdue every disposition and mood and bring them into submission to the obedience of(demonstrated and modeled for us by) the Messiah
Messiah submitted to injustice, uncomplaining, without taking retribution, without so much as resistance, in utter obedience to His Father. He is the standard God measures us by!
And having in all readiness to revenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (complete, perfect)
in other words:
you, yourself, will be fit to take vengeance against the disobedience of others, on the day your own obedience is as complete and perfect as that of Christ!
All together now, in my own words:
Line up your thoughts with what the Bible reveals about God, about justice, about our own (fallen) nature, and disregard any thoughts in your head (or suggested via other sources) that don’t line up with that. (such as the misconception that you are without sins of your own and thereby qualified to cast stones, even at someone who has harmed you). Reign in every thought unto obedience to your example, Messiah, (who though equal with God, took on the form of the lowest servant, humbled himself and submitted to death for your sake and mine!) He is saying, essentially, you will be ready to avenge the wrongdoings of others when you, yourself are as perfect in your obedience as Christ was/is in His!!!
Which, of course, will never happen while we are still subject to the curse of the fall and this flesh.
Whether your problem is worrying unnecessarily (borrowing trouble, which is expressly forbidden in Matthew 6:34), or clinging to resentment, (which is like refusing treatment for cancer), God has spoken on the subject and His instructions are clear:
Do Not Indulge!
It is a good rule of thumb all around, not to indulge our baser nature. Much easier said than done, I realize, but there it is, just the same!