The What, How + Why of Biblical Self-Talk
“I am a loser.”
“I’ll never amount to anything.”
“I will never be like her.”
“I am hopeless.”
“I’ll never get this right.”
“Why should I bother anymore.”
Self-talk is our internal dialogue. It’s influenced by our subconscious mind. It reveals our thoughts, beliefs, questions, and ideas.
Paul David Tripp says it well in his daily gospel devotional, New Morning Mercies, when he writes, “No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do. We never stop talking to ourselves….The things you say to you about you, God, and life are profoundly important because they form and shape the way you then respond to the things that God has put on your plate.”
He’s right. No one talks to us more than…us. How we speak to ourselves heavily influences the next choice we will make. The unfortunate (and destructive) thing is that our self talk is often subjective, self-centered, negative, false, and shifts our gaze off of Christ and onto either ourselves or our circumstances.
Self-talk can either:
-Feed faith or starve it.
-Cleanse or taint.
-Clarify or confuse.
-Unite or divide.
-Focus or distract.
-Redirect us to God’s Word and way or redirect us another way.
…It all depends on what our mind is set on and what we daily proclaim and confess in our head and with our mouth.
There is a reason the world preaches the power of “positive self talk”. Googling that alone will give you endless ideas of how to improve your self-talk. Where the “positive self-talk” movement misses the mark is how it convinces us to focus on our ability to save ourselves. It tells you things like:
"You have the power to change your life."
"You can change your destiny."
"You can do it on your own."
"You can have it all."
Why is this dangerous? Because apart from God we can do nothing (John 15:5). And while scripture does say we can do all things…let’s not miss that it’s all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). He enables, empowers and equips us. What does He empower us to do? His will, not ours.
We must be on guard against any self talk that tempts us to do anything apart from God, His way, His Word and His Truth. If we talk to ourselves without His Word as the very foundation of our words, we could get sucked into preaching a false gospel to ourselves in an effort to create and live our "best"life.
So, what is Biblical self talk? Exactly how it sounds; Talk to yourself His way. It's ultimately making our minds and words disciples of the Word of God.
As I’ve been studying the Psalms, I noticed the biblical version of self-talk. King David and many of the other Psalmists often talked and peached to themselves using phrases like, “O my soul.” Here are some examples:
Psalm 42:5- 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.
Psalm 34:1- I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
Psalm 31:14-But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
Psalm 19:14-May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 35:28-My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.
David confessed what he believed more than what he felt. His prayers often began with him expressing his real emotions. Yet, because he prayed them (vs. bowing down to them or denying them), he could let God to renew his mind and words with His Word and Truth.
Biblical self-talk doesn’t mean we ignore how we feel, it means we submit our emotions under the authority of Christ and ask Him to teach us how to speak in a way that glorifies Him and enhances the spiritual health of our soul. Biblical self-talk still requires awareness and assessment that leads us to being realigned to God’s way; it’s an adjustment in our heart posture and should not lead us to despair, discouragement, defeat or a divided mind.
From what I have learned in Scripture, Biblical self talk includes:
Awareness: We must be willing to identify our thoughts so we can reveal the beliefs behind our words. Awareness requires an honest assessment of our heart and a willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s ability to renew our thinking.
Truth: Unlike worldly self-talk, the Bible encourages us to change our outlook and our words by aligning them with God’s Word, promises and Truth. Confess what is true > what you feel.
Hope: The Biblical approach of self-talk requires a hope-filled conversation within the soul that points us back to God’s character. It also requires self-control because to gaze upon Hope and Truth, we must die to our flesh and the things the flesh wants to gaze upon. This way, we can praise, worship and delight in Christ and be content in Him no matter the emotions or circumstances.
A God Honoring Response: In Psalm 103:1 David says, “Let all that is within me bless His holy name.” David is conversing with his own heart and awakening his heart to the joy and excitement of blessing the Holy Name of God. He stirs himself up to the decision and command to praise. Biblical self-talk gives us a new response in how we talk to ourselves. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we too can stir our soul to ongoing praise no matter what we feel, understand, or see.
Let’s make every effort to ensure our thoughts are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).Let’s keep talking ourselves HIS way with:
-God’s Word as our foundation and filter
-Words that glorify and honor the Lord
-Words that are beneficial to our spiritual maturity
-Words that keep us on mission with love
How is your self-talk?