Sunday, June 22, 2008

Preaching to myself

One of the most valuable things I have been taught in the last couple of years comes from a book I read two years ago by D. Martyn Lloyd Jones called Spiritual Depression. The idea is that we should be preaching Truth to ourselves rather than passively listening to ourselves. After having conversations with people, it's so easy for me to run off in my head and continue a made up conversation. And often I can get upset at a situation or a person because of this made up conversation. This also happens in my spiritual life. I often forget the promises that God has given to me in the Word and merely rely on worldly insight.

One of my biggest struggles is in the area of seeking the approval of others. I want everyone to like me. I want everyone to think I'm cool. I want everyone to think I'm smart, handsome, funny, etc. So, when it comes to this struggle, I am constantly trying to remind myself of promises that I am "approved by God...[speaking] not to please men, but God" (1 Thess. 2:4) and that I am "loved with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3) through Christ, not needing any other approval. Also, when I feel the weight of this sin or any other I need Truth to keep me from being crushed. I love the line in the famous hymn that says "When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made an end to all my sin." That is preaching to yourself.

The psalmist does this in Psalm 42, which is where Lloyd Jones basically gets this idea. He asks the question "Why are you cast down, O my soul?" And then tells himself to "hope in God." Here's how Lloyd Jones talks about preaching to yourself:
"Have you ever realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking you you then bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking you you. Now the [psalmist in Psalm 42]'s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul?' he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: 'Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.'...The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself...then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do."

Right on. By the way I was stirred by all of this a couple of days ago, when listening to a Piper sermon from a couple of weeks ago. Click here to read it, or choose to watch it or download it. It's really good.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, David. Excellent thoughts.

    Reminds me of Luther's(?) admonition to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. Your post is a good treatment of a particular aspect of that advice.

    I like Psalm 42 very much, and I track with what you're saying. Scott C. had something on his blog last November, where I recommended a "song" by William Billings, which uses the text of Ps. 42. You might want to check it out: