Preaching to Yourself is the act of self-consciously and intentionally reminding yourself of the truth of the gospel.
Over the last two weeks we have spent some time discovering –
WHY we need to practice the discipline of preaching to ourselves (because no one talks to us more than we do ourselves, and we are very good listeners)
WHAT we need to preach (the truth of the gospel).
There are many forms of preaching. These include church sermons, radio broadcasts, podcasts, blog posts, conferences and seminars. Most of these forms of preaching can be found in abundance and are easily accessed.
Another form, Preaching to Self, is, however, one of the most neglected forms of preaching.
I haven’t done any formal research on the topic, but I tend to believe that this may be due to the fact that the other forms of preaching are done by “experts.” It’s generally fairly easy for many of us to LISTEN to those we feel are properly trained professionals on topics of the Bible.
Preaching to self puts things in our hands. And this is uncomfortable. Some of us don’t feel “qualified” to preach – to anyone! Others of us don’t think we know enough about the Bible to preach. While others may still be struggling with exactly what preaching to self is or how it should look.
So far, we know that Preaching to Self is:
Recognizing the lie/s we are telling ourselves.
Speaking truth to our soul.
But… for those of us who do better with examples or steps, our question is, “What does that LOOK like?”
First, we need to know that Preaching to Self is both a preemptive work and a responsive work.
As a preemptive work, Preaching to ourselves feeds our soul. It also helps to fix our focus and equip us for battle. We are human. We live in a fallen world. We WILL face ups and downs.
Developing a daily habit of preaching the gospel truth to ourselves each morning and frequently throughout our day will remind us of the importance and power of the Gospel. And when life’s disappointments and “out of the blue” circumstances come (AND THEY WILL), the daily preaching of truth will keep us from being so easily mangled.
What might this daily preemptive Preaching of the Gospel to Ourselves look like?
Here’s a practical example given by Jerry Bridges in his book, Respectable Sins. This is how he preaches the gospel to himself every day:
Since the gospel is only for sinners, I begin each day with the realization that despite my being a saint, I still sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. If I am aware of any subtle, or not so subtle, sins in my life, I acknowledge those to God. Even if my conscience is not indicting me for conscious sins, I still acknowledge to God that I have not even come close to loving Him with all my being or loving my neighbor as myself. I repent of those sins, and then I apply specific Scriptures that assure me of God’s forgiveness to those sins I have just confessed.
I then generalize the Scripture’s promises of God’s forgiveness to all my life and say to God words to the effect that my only hope of a right standing with Him that day is Jesus’ blood shed for my sins, and His righteous life lived on my behalf. This reliance on the twofold work of Christ for me is beautifully captured by Edward Mote in his hymn “The Solid Rock” with his words, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Almost every day, I find myself going to those words in addition to reflecting on the promises of forgiveness in the Bible.
Borrow this pattern. Pray Scriptures – especially those that speak specifically to The Cross and Forgiveness. Personalize Scripture as you pray. Memorize Scriptures and then speak them aloud to yourself. Write out your Scriptures and/or prayers in a journal.
Whatever the form, find a way that fits you and begin the daily habit of preaching the gospel truth to yourself as a preemptive work.
Secondly, the practice of Preaching to Ourselves is a responsive work. When those “bumps of life” hit and we find ourselves listening to unhealthy, destructive inner talk, we must learn to respond with the truth of the Bible.
Recognize – Stop – Preach!
What might Preaching to Ourselves as a responsive work look like?
When you are running late for an appointment, can’t find your shoes, and your toddler spills an entire gallon of milk on the kitchen floor… RECOGNIZE those thoughts spinning through your mind for what they are. STOP! Begin to PREACH. Choose to speak words of truth to yourself instead of continuing to listen.
Father God, forgive me. Forgive me for making this about me. This is NOT about me. Thank you that my child was not hurt. That this is nothing more than spilt milk. Calm my spirit, Lord. Thank you for this precious child you have chosen me to mother. Help her to see you through me – right now. May she come to know you as her personal Savior. Thank you for your finished work on the cross. Be with me now as I choose to clean up this mess with an attitude that is pleasing to You.
When you are fighting a critical spirit toward a person or circumstance, you might choose to preach the truth of the gospel to yourself in writing. Purchase a journal or an inexpensive composition book and dedicate it to this purpose. Each time a negative thought pops into your head about the person or circumstance, fight it with truth. Replace the lie by opening your journal, recording the unhealthy thought, crossing it out, and replacing it with the biblical truth.
Whatever form you choose, begin today to develop this life-changing habit of Preaching to Yourself both preemptively and responsively.
In the real life of day-to-day, our responses to the “bumps” often do not demonstrate the theology we say that we believe. It is our responsibility to recognize this and,rather than allowing our unhealthy inner dialogue to control us, shape our lives by the Gospel – take “every thought captive” and walk in Gospel power.