I’m fascinated by body language and micro expression experts. They look at what’s going on outside the body to determine what’s going on inside the mind. I had always heard that your outside will reveal what’s going on Inside. It’s important for us to control our self talk, which is that voice in our head that’s constantly talking to us. It repeats things it’s heard from others. It tells us how we should be feeling. It also helps us make decisions. I believe this voice is what 2 Corinthians 2:5 is talking about when it tells us to take every thought captive. This voice controls how you see yourself and ultimately your actions.
The story of Ruth is one that draws so many of us in. Naomi, her husband and two boys had to move out of their home to a foreign land because of a famine. Some time after they moved away, her husband died. Her sons married foreign women and about ten years later they died. After a while, she decided to go home with Ruth choosing to go with her. When she arrived back in town, the people were excited to see here and called out her name which means sweetness. She told them to quit calling her that and to instead call her Marah which means bitter. She had allowed her self talk to change her self image to the point that she had become a bitter person. Thankfully God didn’t leave her in that bitter state.
Psalm 73:21-23 says, “When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal; I did not understand you. Yet I always stay close to you, and you hold me by the hand” (GNT). God didn’t leave the author of this psalm in their bitterness either. In verse 26 he penned, “My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength; he is all I ever need.” Your mind may wander and convince you that you’re something other than God created, but He will still woo you and try to pull you from that place. He is your strength to get out of the hole you’re in. He is your strength to fight the negative self talk. And He is your strength to get to where He’s leading you. Your current season is not your destination. Don’t let your self talk convince you that it is. There are greater days ahead.
The heart is known as the seat of our emotions. Our emotions dictate our words and actions. You can tell a lot about what’s in people’s heart simply by listening to them and watching their actions. When I hear people talk down to themselves or beat themselves up, it bothers me because it’s a reflection of how they truly feel about themselves. I went to compliment a kid recently about how well he performed and he replied, “I was terrible. I’m no good. I don’t know why I did it.” My heart broke because he’s already let his self talk destroy his confidence. I tried to speak life into him, but more than anything, he needed a change in his heart to readjust his thinking.
Proverbs 14:26 says, “Confidence and strength flood the hearts of the lovers of God who live in awe of him, and their devotion provides their children with a place of shelter and security” (TPT). It’s amazing how much we can accomplish when we have confidence and mental strength. So many of us struggle with an internal picture of who we are. We must remember that we are made in God’s image. The greater picture we have of God, the greater picture we will have of ourselves. A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength. To love Him with all of our heart, we need to know Him more. The more we know Him, the more we will live in awe of Him. It’s no coincidence that He listed the heart first. Everything stems from there: our relationship with God, our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with others. If you need confidence in any of those areas, it starts with knowing God. You get to know Him more through reading the Bible, prayer and sitting quietly in His presence. Learning to do these three things won’t just change you, it’ll have a generational effect as well.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
I saw a poster recently with a picture of Michael Jordan on it. It caught my attention because it’s been over ten years since he played. Underneath his photo, in big letters, it said “Victory”. Then it wrote out the definition of victory. As I thought about it, he became synonymous with winning and victory, but that’s not his full story. Before he became a star, he couldn’t make his high school team. After he became a star, he failed at gambling, marriage and baseball. He failed in more areas than he succeeded in, but he did not let those failures define him.
You and I are the same. Our failures outnumber our successes. I get caught up sometimes just thinking about my failures. I wonder why I still try. I beat myself down because my failures seem so stupid. I think I should be able to beat them, but each time I fail, I get down on myself. I saw a friend on Facebook ask the other day, “Is it a true portrait of a man to see him when he is tempted?” I thought a lot about that. My first inclination was to say yes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I thought that because I allow my failures to define me.
You and I are more than who we are when we are tempted and when we fail. We are also the person who knows where to seek forgiveness after a failure. We are the person who stands on mountain tops with our arms outstretched looking up to Heaven when we’ve succeeded. We are the person who pushes through when we don’t feel like it and no one seems to care. We are complex and should never allow ourselves to be defined or think that an accurate portrait of ourselves is who we are when we fail.
In Romans 8, Paul listed all kinds of things that could define us. At the end of that list, he said, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ.” It’s time we started to see ourselves as God sees us. We are not all the mistakes, failures or temptations that we face. You and I are victors. We are the very definition of victory if we are willing to get back up, seek forgiveness and to try again. We may not be considered synonymous with victory in the world’s eyes, but we are in God’s. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see a failure. He sees someone made in His image with the power to win.