Exciting phrases, easy acronyms, and memorable lists formed from dense works of systematic theology can be helpful for the everyday Christian. While these reductions of God’s Word and His nature help us understand general frameworks, they are unable to help us understand everything the Bible teaches. It is one thing...
We are deeply influenced by the world around us. Daily we’re bombarded with a thousand images – from the news we watch, to the sermons we hear, to the people we meet. Our affections, attitudes, moods, beliefs, and, ultimately, our actions are swayed, cemented, and interpreted by the voices we listen to.
Yet no voice is so influential in a person’s life as their own.
Paul David Tripp makes this point in his daily gospel devotional, New Morning Mercies, when he writes, “No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do. We never stop talking to ourselves….The things you say to you about you, God, and life are profoundly important because they form and shape the way you then respond to the things that God has put on your plate.”
It’s true. Whether we realize it or not, we are in constant communication with ourselves – commenting internally on everything we encounter. We are dictating the narrative we believe based on our interpretation of the world around us.
And that can be a very dangerous thing.
How to Think About Self-Talk
The secular self-help movement places enormous emphasis on the power of self-talk. They do this because they rightly recognize that what we say to ourselves informs our beliefs. But here’s where this movement fails: It tells us we can achieve self-salvation through the right self-talk. If we just exercise the psychological “power of positive thinking,” we can do anything; we are set free to create reality and follow our dreams.
But that’s not what Paul Tripp was getting at – and it’s not what Scripture says when it teaches the importance of truthful self-communication.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
This is not a call to speak affirmations in the mirror or boost your self esteem. It’s a call to be careful how you think because thoughts have consequences. As humans, our hearts are naturally deceptive and our innermost desires are infected with sin (Jeremiah 17:9). Even though God has saved us, we still wrestle with the flesh. That means sometimes we’re tempted to preach a false gospel to ourselves and believe the lies we hear.
Positive self-talk (that discounts reality) is not going to help us. But truthful self-talk is. That’s what it means to “keep our hearts with all vigilance” – we buffer it with the truth. Ground it, root it, mold it with truth.
Soak your thoughts in Scripture and surround yourself with honest voices.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Six Truths to Preach to Your Heart
But how do we do that? Especially in moments of suffering or disbelief, when truth seems painful, fuzzy, or far away? We re-center ourselves on the truth of God’s Word (Romans 12:2). That’s where reality is found.
So here are six truths to preach to your heart today from the Word:
1. God is faithful (Exodus 34:6-7).
When you’re seeking to gospel self-talk, you must start with God, not you. And what better place to begin meditating than his unfading faithfulness? “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.’”
2. God has saved me (Galatians 2:20).
You are no longer your own. You are not enslaved to sin. Your identity is firmly fixed in Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
3. God is with me (Romans 8:9-15).
The Spirit indwells every believer and helps bear with them, put sin to death, and pursue righteousness. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
4. God is in control (Psalm 47:7-8).
He holds the whole world in his hands and that’s a source of comfort and worship, not fear and anxiety. “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.”
5. God forgives me (1 John 1:9).
We still sin. We still fail. But there is forgiveness in the mercy of God. When we repent and feel the bitter horror of our sin, God promises to forgive us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
6. God will keep me (Romans 8:35-39).
God will bring every one of his children through this life to a better one. He will hold you fast. He will keep you. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God’s Word will not fail. That’s where you’ll find truth. So preach this truth to your heart. That’s gospel self-talk.