MLJ on “Talking to Yourself” Rather than “Listening to Yourself”

The selection from Martyn Lloyd-Jones which I posted yesterday reminded me of another selection from the good doctor that has been especially meaningful to me. In fact, these two paragraphs are among the most memorable and helpful of any that I’ve ever read. They are taken from the excellent book Spiritual Depression. I really can’t emphasize enough the importance for every Christian to read this book. It will help you! The following selection is from pages 20-21 of the current Eerdmans edition.

I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing “ourselves” to talk to us! Do you realize what that means? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you in the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s [David in Psalms 42:5, 11] treatment is this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.” Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have had but little experience.

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why art thou cast down” – what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God” – instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and What God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”

What say you?

4 comments

  1. Really good! This is how I overcame doubting my salvation. I started reminding myself about the truths revealed in the Bible and basing my hope in such, then listening to what I was feeling at the moment. Once again, MLJ said it in better words.

  2. Things just got busy after the Boyce preview conference. But things are returning to normal. Just to tell you, the preview went great! I am really looking forward to starting Boyce in the fall. I believe God has great plans for me there.

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