I'm reading the book of the prophet Jeremiah this morning and I’m struck by this conversation God has with the young prophet at the start of the book:
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.””- Jeremiah 1:4-8 ESV
How often does God speak to us about the good works He’s prepared for us to do before the foundation of the world (Eph 2:10) and we have the same response as Jeremiah?
“Ah, Lord…have you seen how flawed I am? I’m too weak. I’m too old. I’m too young. I’m too inexperienced. I’m too…” and we fill in the blank with whatever self-limiting reasons we have been allowing to hold us back for some time.
God responds back with this: Stop with the self-limiting talk!
Then He puts His finger in the real issue: Do not be afraid of them for I am with you to deliver you.
Our self-imposed limits are rooted in fear. Fear of failure. Fear that we'll be found to be imposters. Fear of our own inadequacies. Fear of what others will say or do.
Nobody speaks to us more than we speak to ourselves. We control the conversation we have with ourselves. How is that conversation going?
If you don’t like what’s going on in your life right now, I’d invite you to step back and look at the conversations you’re having with yourself and ask yourself if you want to keep having those same conversations. What are the names you call yourself? What words are you using? Are they filled with self-contempt, harshness and a kind of judgment? Do you call yourself "pervert", "faggot", "looser", "failure", "worthless", "pathetic" and so on? Or, are you speaking kindly, lovingly and encouragingly to yourself?
In Matthew 5, Jesus says that contempt of others…anger, harsh language, harmful names and labels…is the root of murder. We are to treat others with honor, respect and kindness because they are made in the image of God. But, what about ourselves? Do we have any right to be angry with ourselves? Do we have any right to call ourselves worthless? Do we have any right to label ourselves fools?
No, we are also made in the image of God and our posture towards our own hearts needs to be one of honor, respect and kindness. After all, we are to treat everyone with kindness. But, you can't give someone something you don't have. If you can't be kind with your own heart and body, how can you bring kindness to others? The truth is, you can't. Your posture toward yourself is most seen in the words and language you use when you talk to yourself. Your inner dialogue is constantly going on. Is that inner dialogue coming from a critic or from an encourager?
Here's what Psalm 8 says about us:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
Do you realize God has crowned YOU with glory and honor? Are you embracing this reality today or are you allowing your past and your current struggles to define how you view and speak about yourself. Are you minimizing the glory and honor God Himself has created you to display in your life as His image-bearer?
The Bible has a lot to say about the words of our mouths. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. With our tongues and words we bless our Lord and Father, and with them we curse people who are made in the likeness of God...including, probably more than anyone, ourselves. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Even though I’m not a name-it-and-claim-it prosperity Gospel type, I am a name-it-to-tame-it Gospel type. I believe one aspect of the redemption and restoration Christ brings to our lives is to change the conversation and words we use when we speak to ourselves. We cannot truly change unless and until we are willing to engage, not only the harm others have brought to us with their contemptuous words but how we now continue to harm ourselves with words and conversations filled with shame, contempt and self-loathing.
Every single day, we get to determine the conversations we have with ourselves and the words we use.
How's that conversation going for you today?