Preach to Yourself

If you ever step foot into a bookstore again, you will notice all of the different sections. One of the larger shelves of books is simply labeled “Self-Help.” Copies of books in this section are selling better than ever and sales of them have doubled since 2013.  More and more people are realizing that there is something missing deep down and are looking for the key that will unlock their true potential.

One of the common techniques that is often touted as a pathway towards actualizing yourself as a person is positive self-talk. Whenever I hear someone suggest this method, I think about a “Christian” board game I purchased at a yard sale a few years back. It was based on a very popular Christian Self-Help book and one of the cards you picked up was shiny like a mirror. The task you had to complete was to take a full 15 seconds, look into the mirror card and say positive things to yourself. This seemed ridiculous and I refused to do it but as I reflect on the experience, I realize the author of the game was missing something important: You need to speak truth to yourself, not just say nice things or what you wish was true.

The authors of the Psalms understood how to rehearse the truth. Many of the Psalms find a person pouring out their heart to God. They are reflecting on their circumstances and how they are feeling about them. Anger, sorrow, grief, and suffering are a part of many of the individual songs; but after their lament, they start making statements about who God is and what he has done. These men aren’t speaking positive things into life, they are preaching the truth to themselves.

In Psalm 42, twice the author makes this statement: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

He has already given the reasons why he is down earlier in the song and is now preaching to himself about his attitude.  He tells himself to hope in God to change his attitude. His emotions of dread don’t match up with his ultimate circumstance. This person is a child of God who is dearly loved by the creator of the universe who controls all things. In the moment it looks bleak but he is reminding himself about God’s character.

If you read the Psalms, you will see many more instances of people in bad circumstances preaching to themselves to get the truth deep inside. There are times when I am sad or anxious where I have to remind myself to rejoice. I don’t rejoice in the circumstances but in all that Christ has done for me. When I am tempted to sin, there are times when I am able to tell myself the truth that Christ has given me all of the comfort and approval I’ve ever needed and don’t need to get it through sin. On days where I am in a funk, I go to His Word to lift up my soul. Missionary Elisabeth Elliot drives home the truth when she says from her book, Keep a Quiet Heart: “The secret (to contentment) is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”
Remembering Christ, what he has done, and who you are in him will change the way you see your day and the way you see your life.
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