Speaking to Yourself Versus Listening to Yourself

Recently a young woman sat on my couch with tears streaming down her face. “I feel like God is always angry with me!” she blurted through the sobs. I paused to ponder my answer, “Why do you feel God is angry with you?” As she unpacked her reasoning it was clear she was not speaking the truth about her identity in Christ to herself.  Rather she was listening to the lies of the enemy who was serving up heaping loads of condemnation into her heart and mind.

Today as I was trying to sort out my schedule, priorities, relationships and expectations, I began to “circle the drain” in my own thinking. My mind began to go places that were unhealthy and unproductive because I was listening to myself and lies of the enemy versus speaking to myself the truths of the Word of God.

I first heard about this concept in a book by C.J. Mahaney, The Cross-Centered Life. The idea is that we need to speak truth to ourselves (ideally from the Word of God) versus listening to ourselves (often the lies of the enemy). This is illustrated in Psalm 42:5 when the Psalmist says, “ Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” He is downcast and his soul is feeling the impact of the heaviness he is experiencing. But next he speaks to himself, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Ps.42:5-6). Three times in Psalms 42 and 43 these exact words are written. Three times he purposefully and intentionally speaks truth to himself.

This is what I need to do! This is what the woman in my apartment needed to do. As a mom, this is what we need to teach our children to do! We need to learn to speak truth to ourselves and  also help others to speak truth to themselves.  We have an enemy who is the father of lies (John 8:44) who wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Our default mode is to wake up each day and allow unfiltered thoughts to penetrate us and to cause us to think incorrectly. We need to take each thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) and only allow thoughts, which have been filtered through the truth of God’s Word to come into our minds. God’s Word becomes the filter through which everything is processed.

Here is what I am encouraging others to do and what I am seeking to do in my own life. When a thought comes into our mind, we immediately need to take that thought captive, filter it through the truth of God’s Word and either:

1)   Expose it as a lie from the enemy and expel it from our lives, or
2)   Receive it as truth and allow it to permeate our thinking

A few days after we discussed the concept of speaking to yourself versus listening to yourself, my precious friend texted me, “I slept in later than I expected today and instead of waking up with guilt I woke up remembering His grace.”

As you love your own children or those the Lord gives you as spiritual children, may the Lord give you wisdom to discern what is true.  May He empower you to think on and embrace His truth. And may you also, not only, speak truth into your own life but also into the lives of others.  May you believe truths of who the Lord is and who you are in Him.

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