Some of the most significant conversations we have had, have probably been those we had with ourselves—even when we didn’t realize we were talking.
We say things to ourselves more often than we realize. Sometimes it’s a direct conversation, and other times, it’s the simple process of thinking.
Words are powerful. As Proverbs 18:20 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” This is true, not only of what we say to others, but of what we say to ourselves as well.
Throughout Scripture, God took note of what people said to themselves: The rich fool spoke words of pride and self-sufficiency to himself (Luke 12:16–21). The scribes spoke words of self-righteousness and unbelief to themselves when Jesus healed the sick of the palsy (Mark 2:6–7). Onlookers spoke words of selfishness and stinginess when the woman anointed Jesus’ feet with her precious ointment (Mark 14:3–5). And all of these inner conversations were significant enough for Christ to take note of.
Sometimes we say things to ourselves that we would never allow others to say to us. We allow negative or discouraging thoughts to repeat themselves many times over in our minds:
- Nobody loves me.
- I’m not important.
- I’m a failure.
- I wish I had… [an item, relationship, position]
- My authorities (parents, teachers, etc.) don’t care about me.
- I can’t…
- It’s too hard.
- I’ll never forgive her for…
When God instructs us regarding what we say to others, He tells us to bridle our tongues (James 3:2). But when He instructs us regarding what we say to ourselves, He tells us “Gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Peter 1:13).
It’s so easy to allow our minds to become flabby—undisciplined and unrestrained. But we don’t have to think about whatever enters our minds! We can “gird up”—strengthen and discipline—our minds. We can determine to say to ourselves only that which is wholesome and life giving (Proverbs 18:20).
How do we gird up the loins of our minds?
By renewing our minds
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2) Scripture has the incredible power to transform our thinking. But we have to choose to give it entrance into our hearts by reading it and meditating on it.
We can do this by finding verses that combat our reoccurring negative thoughts. For example:
- “I can’t…”
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
- Nobody loves me.
“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).
- I can’t do _______ well enough.
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
- I won’t forgive.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
This is more than “the power of positive thinking.” It is choosing to allow the transforming power of God’s Word change us and change our thinking.
Through godly music
Another way to speak rightly to yourself is found in Ephesians 5:19: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Godly music that turns our hearts to God in praise can redirect our thinking and reenergize our spirits.
Many of the thoughts that we allow to replay in our minds would be set at rest if we would follow the instruction of Philippians 4:6: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
What are you saying to yourself? What goes through your mind over and over? Does it pass the filter of Philippians 4:8? “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Girding up the loins of our minds in disciplined and renewed thinking takes courage and requires a willingness to persist. It’s not always easy. But God has given us the resources to do it, and it brings victory!
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
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