Every morning, I face a spiritual battle. Who am I going to believe today?
- Jesus promises that his word brings life; my flesh tells me that it’s boring and irrelevant.
- The Spirit assures me that I am an adopted child of God; my flesh says “Really? After the day you had yesterday?”
- Jesus promises to take my prayers before his Father, who loves to listen; my flesh tells me that God is aloof and distant.
- The Spirit reminds me of all the spiritual blessings I have in Christ, freely given; my flesh tells me that I’m owed an easy life and shows me all the ways my life is a disappointment.
- Jesus tells me that he is the bread of life; my flesh says “but what you really need is a girlfriend”.
- Jesus says to work as if I were working for him; my flesh tells me that my job is pointless, and I should do as little as possible.
As I emerge from sleep, it’s so easy to listen to the devil’s lies. Lying there in bed, my flesh can be very persuasive. I might succeed in dragging myself downstairs and opening the Bible, but even then these thoughts can crowd in: “You don’t really believe this, do you? It makes no sense. Wouldn’t you rather watch TV?” “Why pray for her? It’s not going to change anything.”
So many of my problems come from listening to myself. Instead, I need to talk to myself. In Psalm 103, David does just that:
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
David talks to himself, telling his soul not to forget all the Lord has done for him. When my flesh is telling me to doubt God’s promises, I can talk back. “Self: you say that God is uninterested and far away; but I tell you, he is my Father, and loves to listen. You say I’ll never get recognition at work and should give up; but I tell you that my Father sees what is done in secret and will reward me. You say that I’ll never fit in, that I’ll always be lonely; but I tell you that I am adopted into the family of God. You say that God wants to spoil our fun; but I tell you, in his words are life to the full.”
Each morning, rather than dwelling on all the mess inside my head, I can tell myself of the one who has blessed me immeasurably. The more I do it, the less persuasive the voices sound.
As a wise man once said, “Talking to yourself isn’t the first sign of madness – it’s the first sign of wisdom.”