(4) John Owen: The Spiritual Mind’s Rudder


If it is spiritual mindedness that we are after, it is helpful to be aware of what the competition is… to honest about what else is competing for the affection of our thoughts. Owen puts it this way in ch11…

“Spiritual mindedness grows from and consists of being delighted by spiritual things: what we LOVE is what captures us. The great contest between heaven and earth is to see which of them can most draw out our love. Whoever has our love has the whole of us; love causes us to give ourselves away, as nothing else can. Our love is like the rudder of a ship – where it is turned, there the ship goes.”

Matthew 6:19-24 describes this principle that Owen is speaking about in relation to the love of money.  

Reflection 1: What “object of love” is most likely to play the master in your thought life?

Reflection 2: What unspiritual “loves” act as your rudder? “To think less of anything, one must think more of something else” ie Owen is saying that it is not enough to free our thoughts from the love of things which displease God. We must simultaneously replace them with thoughts of love for those things which do please God.

An Exercise: Each time you try and put to death your love for some ungodly thought, try immediately to replace it with thoughts of love for God himself. [eg – you become aware of lustful thoughts and try and put them out of your mind. Don’t let that be the end of it – immediately try and replace those thoughts with affection and love for say, God’s patience or His compassion, or His majesty. by doing so we are training ourselves not only to hate evil, but love good – Amos 5:15, Rom 12:9]


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