Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Take the Challenge - Talk to Yourself!

Here is a challenge for you: Talk to yourself! Yes, talk to yourself. That may sound odd. We have always heard that it is alright to talk to ourselves as long as we do not answer. Well, it could be that it is really okay to even answer ourselves.

Think about this. Most of the time we do not talk to ourselves. Rather, we listen to ourselves and this gets us into more trouble than just about anything else. Martin Lloyd Jones said, "Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself?"

You may wonder what the difference is. What exactly do we hear when we listen to ourselves? Well, if you are like me, you hear very much the same kind of complaining I hear as I listen to myself. Typically, it goes something like, "Why am I the only one cleaning up around here?" Or, "O, brother, I have so much to do today. Why does my life have to be so complicated?" Or, "There I go again. Won't I ever learn to get this right?" Or, "Jerk!!! What do you mean pulling our in front of me like that? You must have gotten your driver's license out of a Cracker Jack box!" Or, "Why did I say I'd do this? When will I learn to say "no, no, no!"?" Or, "I really should have been given the credit for that. Why did so-and-so slight me? She must not like me. In fact, she always uses my ideas and takes credit for them, herself." And on and on and on...

If we would actually just listen to the record that is replaying in our heads, how disgusted we would be at what we hear. When we listen to another person giving verbal expression to these same kind of complaints (that we excuse in our own heads), would we not like to rebuke that one for such words? These kind of thoughts are always and only about ourselves. And the only way to change these base self-focused thoughts into God-glorifying thoughts is to do what David did in Scripture - talk to ourselves rather than listen to ourselves.
"Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." Psalm 43:5

"My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God." Psalm 62:5-7
"On a daily basis", C. J. Mahaney says, "we are faced with two simple choices. We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances or we can talk to ourselves about the unchanging truth...about who God is and what He's accomplished on the Cross for us in His Son, Jesus."

You may wonder what the harm is in having such thoughts. After all, isn't a thought just a thought? I'd have to say "no" to that question. Wrong thoughts dwelt upon always give way to outward actions, whether that is a sharp, unkind, disrespectful word to your husband or mother, etc., or an act of violence toward another human being. Every murder started out as thoughts of hatred.

Thoughts are lofty things, whether good or bad. Second Corinthians 10:5-6 nails it, "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ..." "Every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God" are those negative self-focused thoughts that pass through my mind. When I choose to dwell on those thoughts, it becomes sin for me. After all, that thought is a "lofty thing raised up against" what I know to be true about my unchanging, faithful God who works everything for my good and His glory.That thought is a lie about God and His sovereign dealings in my life.

So we must be telling ourselves what is true about God. Philippians exhorts us to "think on what is true". How do we do that? We must reorient our minds to dwell on truth, and the way that happens is by the renewing of our minds. Romans 12 :2 is the key. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Our minds are transformed by God's word, the Bible. What goes into our brains comes out as thoughts. One of the things we learn in Scripture is to do what David did. Refuse to listen to the lofty lies raised up against the knowledge of God. Check those thoughts. Bring them into captivity. Give them no freedom to thrive and grow in your mind. When you find your mind wandering, do not listen. Begin at once to talk to yourself about what is true. "God is good and He loves me." "God has graciously forgiven that sin. I will thank Him at all times." "There is no one like the Lord. No one has ever loved me so much. His plans for me are good, to give me a future and a hope." "I love the Lord. My hope is in Him alone. Only He can bring good out of this situation. O, may He be glorified."

So take the challenge! Talk to yourself. Then your thoughts will be glorifying to the Lord.

"...You know me, O Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about You." Jeremiah 12:3

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

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  1. Thank you Sharon! I needed to hear/read this!!!

  2. What great encouragement Sharon! Thank you for that challenge, I'm gonna take it!