Tuesday, May 5, 2009

gospel self-talk in simple sentences

What simple sentences do you use to remind yourself of God's truth?

What are the main temptations you struggle with? Do you have a short fuse, jumping all the way from calm to angry outburst in a second? Are you anxious, always struggling with fears and worries? Has bitterness overtaken your heart, driving out joy and contentment? Do you have what Ed Welch calls "a resistant strain of guilt", like a virus, driving out the comfort of God's grace?

I've talked lots on this blog about preaching to yourself. I want to share a way of doing this which I've found helpful recently.

You can preach God's truth to yourself by reading the Bible, memorising Bible passages, recalling Bible verses, listening to Christian music, or listening to talks: there are all kinds of ways of reminding yourself of God's goodness, sovereignty and grace.

But in the heat of the moment, when you're tempted to bitterness, anxiety or despair, these can be too slow and complicated (except maybe the Bible verse recall).

So what I've done is to invent simple sentences, quick summaries of Gods' truth, that I can speak to myself when I feel the familiar pull to doubt God's goodness, or worry about my children, or drown in guilt.

Here's some of my common temptations (I'm sure you have your own!) and the sentences I've come up with to combat them:

  • When I've sinned, or made a mistake or a wrong decision, and I'm beating myself over the head with it:
    "I'm already perfect in God's eyes because Jesus died for me."
  • When I'm worried about what someone thinks of me:
    "It doesn't matter what they think of me. It only matters what God thinks of me, and he just wants me to be faithful."
  • When God hasn't answered one of my prayers - normally a trivial one! - or I'm late for school or something's gone wrong and I wonder if he loves me:
    "God doesn't exist for my convenience."
  • When I feel bad and want to make myself feel better by eating:
    "The comfort this brings will soon turn to despair. My true comfort is found in Jesus."
  • When I'm worried about the effect my sin has on my children:
    "God uses everything for my children's good and his glory, even my sin."
  • When I'm tempted to be proud of something I've achieved:
    "I have nothing that I was not given. May all the glory go to God!"
I know these sentences are very simplistic. Perhaps "simple" would be a better word. For behind each of them lie truths about God which are rich, full and liberating: that God is absolutely sovereign, that he sent his only Son to die for me, that his grace frees me from condemnation, that I don't have to earn his favour, that he is good, and that his glory is all that matters.

What simple sentences do you use to remind yourself of God's truth?


mattnbec said...

This is a good idea, Jean. My husband has been really helpful to me in teaching me about doing these sorts of things. It's a good, practical way of helping Christian truth become practical and filter down from our heads into our hearts.

When I've done this so far it's been often via Bible verses and the phrases I use aren't really fixed. One big one over the last few years has simply been to remind myself "Children are a blessing from the Lord" and perhaps that "my kids are an instrument of God for my sanctification" or something like that. I'm sure you can guess the situations where this sort of self-talk has been useful!

I've more recently also been reminding myself when things are hard, that "God gives us difficulties to help us to learn to trust him" or that "God has specifically given me this situation to grow me (maybe in patience, endurance or whatever)".

I've (or we've) used Bible verses in a similar way. One I remember is Jer 2:13 (" my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.") which was a good reminder to me not to forsake God by lusting after material things. When I used to drive past a particularly nice house or get too fussy over our furniture or whatever, I'd remind myself that they weren't trustworthy, but were "cracked cisterns that hold no water". Or even tell the house/furniture or whatever that it was only going to burn up when Jesus returns anyway.


Jean said...

Thanks, Bec, those sentences / verses are amazingly helpful! I feel like writing them out and learning them too!! :)

I guess a lot of it is just getting to know God so well that his truth springs to mind whatever the situation.