The Language of Self

Just as God’s Word speaks to us, there must also be the word that we speak to ourselves. Strange as it may seem, this is the vital link to conquering the tug of feeling. Oswald Chambers put it quite bluntly in his classic volume My Utmost for His Highest:

Unless we train our emotions they will lead us around by the nose, and we will be captives to every passing impulse or reaction. But once faith is trained to control the emotions and knows how to lean resolutely against weaknesses of character, another entryway of doubt is sealed shut forever. Much of our distress as Christians comes not because of sin, but because we are ignorant of the laws of our own nature.

Listen to the way Martin Lloyd-Jones states it. To be sure, at first blush we react against what he is saying and wonder if this is nothing more than autosuggestion. It could be dangerously close to that if it were not also sustained by what the Scriptures teach in identical fashion. First the words of Lloyd-Jones:

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand. You have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. The essence of this matter is to understand that this self of ours, this other man within us, has got to be handled. Do not listen to him; upbraid him; exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know instead of placidly listening to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you.

Does not the apostle Paul practice this same discipline? “For my part, I run with a clear goal before me; I am like a boxer who does not beat the air; I bruise my own body and make it know its master” (1 Cor. 9:26-27). In Psalm 42:5 David asks, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” In Psalm 116:7, he says, “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.” Certainly, if the apostle Paul’s charge that we are to speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is to encourage and influence, the same must apply to ourselves—making melody in our hearts to the Lord is an encouraging word to ourselves.
[Cries of the Heart by Ravi Zacharias]


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