Everyone has heard of self-talk. You know, what we tell ourselves, and the ways we speak those things. It’s what we tell the one in the mirror what we think about him or her, and how he or she reflects back what we said. It is important to monitor those conversations with ourselves, because they do impact our lives to various degrees –for better or worse. What we say reinforces what we believe to be true, which includes lies. Surely you’ve heard the adage, “If you repeat a lie long enough, people will believe it.” Some of you have been called things at a young age, which you took to heart. You’ve been reiterating them ever since –consciously or unconsciously.
Have you ever made a mistake, and said something like, “Way to go, stupid!”
That is not mere jocular self-deprecation; that’s something heart-felt. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45). Think about the attitude and tone behind it. Was there a surge of criticism involved? Even if it was mere self-deprecation, that’s still not necessarily the best thing to say to yourself. To be sure, we cannot afford to take ourselves too seriously. Where’s the fun in that? Just be aware of what is behind it. Pay attention to what voices to which you listen as well.
There are voices of the past that need to be eliminated; otherwise, you may very well find yourself repeating them. Ephesians 5:8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light. While it is true we were once darkness and children of disobedience, it is not who we are today in Jesus Christ.
There are those in the world, who love to remind you of your past; but now, their voices should be considered the voices of strangers.
You don’t have to listen to them anymore; in fact, they should be falling on deaf ears because you’re listening to the voice of Jesus. John 10:2-5But he who enters in by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens to Him, and the sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. And when He puts forth his own sheep, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him. For they know His voice. And they will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. If you identify with what they’re saying to you, you will repeat the lies. You will believe those things, which have been crucified with Christ, still reside in you.
Getting back to, “Way to go stupid!” Some have learned performance equals worth. That’s a lie! Basic Christianity makes it clear performance is now the result of our new nature. Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. We are loved based on who we are; not what we do. Your worth is not predicated on what you do. So, if you fail to perform well, why would you call yourself worthless? That’s an insult to Jesus!
Do not reinforce the lie by severely criticizing yourself. If you made a mistake, learn from it.
Use it as a building block; not a stumbling block. Make adjustments where needed, but do not equate your worth to the mistake. In a healthy home, when a toddler falls down while learning to walk, his parents don’t consider him worthless; much less, call him that. Why? Because he is a well-loved child. Guess what, you’re a well-loved child in the heart of God our Father. Tell the person in the mirror, “You’re a well-loved child of God!” That’s not arrogance, that’s true humility.
It would be a great idea to compare what you say to yourself with what God says about you. Anything that contradicts His Word is a lie. Be sure you filter it through love, because that is God’s nature. 1 John 4:16And we have known and believed the love that God has in us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. What He has to say about you may initially “go against the grain.” This is especially true if you grew up with self-loathing. The Bible tell us to speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15). Do you believe it’s time to speak the truth in love to the one in the mirror? Using factual statements about mistakes and failings is not the same thing. While we need to be honest with ourselves, we do need to vacate fault-finding. (The) Holy Spirit is very good at convicting us when we need to change the way we think, which results in the necessary change in behavior. That is called repentance.
As eluded to earlier, sometimes we have to change our circle of friends in order to move forward. 1 Corinthians 15:33Do not be deceived; evil companionships corrupt good habits. That doesn’t mean we stop loving them or stop being their friend; it means we don’t hang out with them if they negatively influence us. It’s one thing to influence a negative person for the good; it’s quite another, if he or she negatively influences you.
As the saying goes, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.”
This does not infer that we avoid engaging the lost with the Gospel. The more you fellowship with people who are going the right direction, the more truth will be reinforced in your heart. The more words of godly affirmation you hear, the more you will whisper them in your own ears. What you believe to be true will influence the direction you go. If you receive a lie and speak the lie, chances are you will act on it too.
Finally, be careful about lying to yourself about others. While it is true there will be those who despise you, especially because you’re a disciple of Christ, that does not mean everybody does. Remember, it’s not what you think about others, nor what they think about you; it’s what you think they think about you that can really mess with your head. Perception goes a long way in the way we interact with others. If you believe no one likes you, you will have the perception they think negatively about you. Usually, that stems from your own self-evaluation. When given the opportunity, they may very well prove your hypothesis wrong. Be careful not put them on trial and declare them guilty, before it even begins. Similarly, as stated before, be careful about to whose opinions you listen. People do lie about other people. It’s important to allow discernment from the Spirit to work in your heart. Being suspicious of others is the counterfeit. Ask God for His opinion. Too many sabotage awesome relationships by receiving the lie. Even if someone is in darkness, that does not mean we cannot be light to him or her. Speak to the potential through faith by the Spirit. Seek the truth. Reject the lies and don’t repeat them to yourself. So, what are you going to tell the person in the mirror?
From time to time, we’ve all asked the question, “why?” It is one question that can actually hinder our walk of faith, because in some cases, it genders a victim mentality. Yes, “why” can be appropriate when gaining understanding in the things of the Lord. It’s inquisitive, and does not question God’s intentions toward us. In many cases, “why” is the one question we generally will not find an answer for on this side of eternity. This of course, pertains to such questions as, “Why did this happen to me?” That is not a question of faith. In fact, it questions the goodness of God.
If you begin to question His goodness and love, your faith is going to suffer. Hope will also begin to elude you.
“Why” can actually put a wedge in your relationship with Him. The victim mentality blames God for things you’ve suffered. The moment you begin to blame Him; you begin to push Him away. Whether you admit or not, you may very well become angry with God. Even hold Him in unforgiveness. Natural relationships bear this out. Have you ever been hurt by someone? Did your relationship suffer as a result?
Perhaps, instead of “why,” the question should be, “what?”
“Lord, what do You want me to see in this situation?” “What do You want me to do?” “What am I becoming as a result?” Those kind of questions actually causes our relationship with the Father to grow. Instead of seeing Him as some sort of adversary, you really will see Him as your loving Father. Ask relational questions. In the meantime, trust Him before gaining any revelation.
By the way, trying to answer the question “why” can be dangerous as well. Especially, if you try to answer for God. People have been devastated by others, because they presumed to speak for Him. “I know what happened. You had sin in your life.”
Such religious babbling never heals and restores.
Job 13:7Would you speak unrighteously for God, and talk deceitfully for Him? The Bible clearly says that if we speak, we are to speak as the oracles or utterances of God (see 1 Peter 4:11). What does that mean? Unless God leads you by His Spirit, it would be wisdom to remain silent. If you feel the need to say anything, “I don’t know” will suffice. Anything said apart from (the) Holy Spirit, will more than likely misrepresent the Father. Corrupt answers can lead people away from God, as they create guilt, shame and condemnation. This unholy trinity leads to sin-consciousness, and with that, fear. Love does not put stumbling blocks before others. Love brings correction; not condemnation. Love restores; not destroys. Love is not harsh; it’s gentle or meek. Any answer we may deliver, must be filtered through love. Sure, there may be times a sharp rebuke may be in order, but that’s another lesson. Nonetheless, even the sharp rebuke is based on love, with the intent to bring repentance when necessary. James 1:19Therefore, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
Finally, if you are tempted to ask “why,” take the posture of praise.
Perhaps, one of the quickest ways to peace and clarity is praise and thanksgiving. It elevates our awareness of His presence, and in His presence is fullness of joy (see Psalms 16:11). It glorifies Him, while anchoring our hearts in hope. Thanksgiving keeps us in touch with gratitude. Praise helps us connect our heart and soul with our position as well-loved children. Love, joy, and peace elevates our ability to gain clarity, which makes it much easier to receive answers when the Father reveals them to us; or at least, tries to reveal them. Keep your heart open to Him. He is a good Father!
We are designed to believe. We are created in the image of God, and therefore, created to walk by faith. God Himself has faith. As it is written, “For what? If some did not believe, will not their unbelief nullify the faith of God(Romans 3:3)?” This is why there’s a part of us that wants to believe what we hear. It is also one reason Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
Children tend to believe anything, until they become disillusioned by those who would lie to them, especially if it’s those whom they trust. This is a challenge for those who have lived a life full of deception. When you have been deceived or use deception, it becomes difficult to believe even those things proven to be true. To be child-like again when it comes to believing God and receiving His promises is of major importance. Fortunately for us, God put faith in us to be activated when we hear the truth (see Romans 10:17; 12:3).
How do we become child-like?
A major component of this is to decide God is good, and yes, He is good all the time; regardless of what we believe.
You must reject the lies about His character. Take inventory of what you believe about Him, and compare it to what the Bible says concerning the goodness of God. Anything that says He is not good, gracious, merciful, kind forgiving and the like, throw it out. After all, God is love. Unlike earthly fathers, good or bad, He is the perfect Father. Believe it or not, the decision to believe is yours to make. In other words, regardless of your past experiences, you have the ability to decide. No matter how disappointed in life you may be, you are not doomed to unbelief. Do you want proof? Are there things you do believe? Of course, and you had to make the decision to do so.
To believe or not to believe, along with what to believe is something you decide; it is not automatic.
When it comes to being child-like, it is important to pay attention to whom you believe. For the most part, a young child will believe anything his or her parents will tell him. Why? Because he trusts them. As long as they remain honest with him, he will trust them because he learned they are trustworthy. Even in dysfunctional settings, children still want to believe their parents, even if they lie. Here is one important thing to know: it is impossible for God to lie (see Hebrews 6:18)! Sure, because of their humanity, people will let us down. However, God has never lied to you, nor will He ever!
“I don’t trust people!” That is understandable; however, God is not a man that He should lie. Don’t confuse negative outcomes or circumstances with the nature of God. Don’t falsely accuse Him. There is a devil who seeks to kill, steal and destroy. We also have ways of sabotaging ourselves. None of which can be attributed to God. He has not overrun our ability to make decisions or act badly. He will, however, use those things for good to those who love Him (see Romans 8:28).
Decide to trust God, and you will become child-like. That doesn’t mean you will be gullible.
Gullibility has to do with being easily tricked or deceived; but, God does not deceive nor does He trick us. As we trust Him, He gives us the ability to discern what is true and what is a lie. Trust enables you to believe. If you don’t trust someone, you will not believe him. If you trust God, you will believe Him. Sometimes, we have to navigate through those things that hinder our trusting anyone. Nonetheless, the more you trust Him, the more He will prove Himself to you. No, we don’t’ put God on trial; especially, since He doesn’t answer to us. That’s not trust. The point is that by virtue of experiencing His trustworthiness, you will become more and more child-like in relation to believing Him. Incidentally, any lack of experience doesn’t prevent you from having new ones. You were designed to believe Him. For some, it’s time to push the “reset button.” If you don’t believe Him, something is broken or missing. The missing ingredient may be a relationship with Him.
Have you ever considered that rules are for the faithless? A relationship based on rules instead of love is void of faith. In fact, it’s not a relationship; or at least not an intimate one. If anything, it’s a business relationship that tends to center on fear rather than faith. Even “the Law is not of faith” (Galatians 3:12). A couple reasons it was in place was to protect those who followed it, and bring them to the realization they can never become righteous apart from Jesus Christ; much less, earn a relationship by following a bunch of rules. As we read the entirety of chapter three, we find that the Apostle Paul admonished the Galatians for following works after receiving the Spirit by faith.
If you were wooed by the Holy Spirit. If you entered into a relationship with Him through faith, and then tried following a bunch of self-imposed rules instead of love, it should not be a surprise if you feel distant from Him. Scripture clearly states love fulfills the Law.
By trying to adhere to rules instead of love, you will feel unworthy of a relationship with God. Why? Your focus changes from faith to the fear of failure.
Once you center on not breaking the rules, you’ll start breaking them. You become sin-conscious, and that puts a wedge between you and the Father. “He couldn’t possibly want anything to do with me. I’m not worthy.” That is so not the Gospel! Have you not heard that there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you less, or more for that matter? Why did Jesus die on the Cross for you? Because He loves you. Before receiving Jesus, He loved you. John 3:16For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Think about that a moment, and let it sink in. Because He loves you, He dealt with your sin first. If He dealt with it, why would you try to deal with it by following rules? Think about it.
When you simply follow love, rules aren’t required for a relationship to flourish. Love is focused on benefitting the recipient, so there’s no need for boundaries. For example, if you truly love someone, you’ll never consider stealing from him or her. If anything, the opposite would be true in that you would want to give to him or her. True love never even considers crossing the line. Love is self-contained. Love enables you to enjoy the relationship. Who enjoys following a bunch of rules? The religious.
Religion controls the relationship, and that kind of relationship is totally dysfunctional. It is fear-based; not love-based. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). God is Love. If God wanted you to live in terror, He would never have loved you to begin with. Religion is self-centered.
The religious are afraid to relinquish control. They live with the illusion they can keep God in a box.
Why do you suppose the Spirit-led life is foreign to them? They love formulas. Spontaneity scares the daylights out them. Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The letter of the Law kills (see 2 Corinthians 3:6).
Basic Christianity clearly states it is what Jesus did that makes us worthy; not what you think you can do. Worthy is the Lamb! Intimacy simply requires love. If after reading Matthew 7:21-23, you wonder if the Lord knows you, here’s the simple answer: But if any one loves God, he has been known of him (1 Corinthians 8:3). To know refers to the intimate knowledge found in a relationship. He knows everyone, but not everyone is intimate with Him.
What cripples faith and makes churches ineffective for the Kingdom? The things of the world that preeminence in the heart of Christians.1 John 2:15-16Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. What hinders answered prayer? Chasing after worldly pleasures instead of God (see James 4:2-3). Is it wrong to have things? No, not in itself. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also(Matthew 6:21). Who or what do you treasure the most?
When people are more concerned about what pleases them than what pleases God, they become ignorant of His will.
In fact, a number of them try to bend God’s will to conform to theirs. Essentially, they reign on the throne of their heart while claiming Jesus Christ is their Lord. A telling statement is, “This is what I want in a church.” When you are more concerned about your agenda than God’s will, Jesus is not your Lord in those times.
Unfortunately, in a self-centered culture, some have a difficult time bending their knees to the King of kings and Lord of lords. In truth, it’s religion masquerading as the Church.
Religion wants God to perform for its pleasure.
The reason some stumble with faith is they are trying to get Him to do their bidding. In their heart, the sacrifice Jesus made is not enough reason to serve Him; even though, they were created for His pleasure. Are they saying reconciliation with the Father is not enough? Do they mean to say that unless God gives them what they want, they won’t serve Him? How does that fit with loving God?
Do you serve God for reward? Yes, He does reward obedience; but, we all must be wary of becoming hired hands. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up His cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Obedience is based on love; not personal gain.
Let’s get down to some nuts and bolts of faith. Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Those who are not listening to God, will not walk by faith. On occasion, you may come across someone who picks verses of Scripture that fit their desires, act on them, and call that faith.
That is not faith; that’s more like using the Bible to put words in the Lord’s mouth.
We all have to be careful about how we handle the Word of God. 2 Corinthians 5:9-11Therefore we are also laboring to be well-pleasing to Him, whether at home or away from home. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to that which he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men….
Whether it’s on a congregational or individual level, we must consider where we’re at in relation to the will of God. If we’re producing little or no fruit, then we may have some repenting ahead of us. Sometimes, it’s more of a question of clarity than it is insisting on one’s own way. That is the time to ask for wisdom, which is another lesson in itself. If there is a lot of quarreling or bickering going on in a church, the wisdom of God is absent (see James 3:13-18). The bottom line is to have effective faith; you need to fully submit to the Lord.