This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. First off, we just wanted to ask you guys, if you haven’t yet to consider jumping on iTunes and leaving us a review. It really helps other moms find the podcast, and it’s a huge blessing to us. There is a short tutorial for that on our website that we’ll link to on our show notes if you need to know how. Or there’s some troubleshooting there. But it should just take a few minutes of your time.
Then, today we’re going to talk about something that is a little bit of a “Christianese” - Christian language that gets thrown around a lot. It’s one of those you’re like, “Can I say that; I don’t really know what that means!” It’s “preaching the gospel to yourself.”
Laura: Exactly. It’s totally one of those things that there’s a hashtag on Instagram for, or people say a lot and it sounds really nice. But you’re like, “That sounds kind of theoretically ambiguous. What does that really look like on a practical level?” That’s something that Emily and I are going to talk through today - what does it look like for a mom – or really, any human – but what does it look like for us as believers to preach the gospel to ourselves?
Emily you were telling me about a funny picture that you always have when you hear it?
Emily: Yes! Whenever I’ve heard “preach the gospel to yourself …” Okay I am just kind of a literal person. I just imagine that you go shut yourself in your room, and you’re like, “Okay, Lord, I need to remember that my identity is in Christ.” [laughter] And we’re saying it out loud. I just cannot get a preacher out of my head! [laughter]
Laura: You go get your podium, you get your congregation in front of you and you just preach it! [laughter]
Emily: I know. I am like, if that is literally what that means, my kids would destroy my house by the time that sermon was over. [laughter]
Laura: What exactly is it to preach the gospel to yourself? It’s really simple in actuality, but it does sound a little bit hard in theory.
It is a very vital part of the Christian walk. We all know that you’re always telling yourself something and you’re always kind of preaching to yourself. The question is, are you preaching the gospel to yourself, or are you preaching your own desires and wants, or maybe the messages of the world? That’s something we’re going to talk through – how to change the conversation in your mind. What’s that quote Emily? There is a quote that’s like, “Most of your problems are because you’re listening to yourself, not speaking to yourself …?” I feel like there’s a quote out there that’s very deep and wise, and it’s all about basically “talk to yourself; don’t just listen to yourself.”
Emily: We can’t really talk to ourselves about the gospel, and again, I am not necessarily saying talking out loud – that’s what always comes to my mind – but just thinking thoughts in your head about the gospel, if we don’t know and understand it. There is no way to understand the gospel without spending time in the Word of God. Also having some sort of mnemonic device like we use on the show – creation, fall, redemption, restoration – to help us anchor some of our thoughts to these different pieces, and really become fluent in it. That is something we’ve got to understand and have solid in our brain , in order to even put right thoughts into our mind. We have to be transformed with the truth of God’s Word.
Laura: Even for today’s show, something that I’ve been realizing is the words, “the gospel” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, especially in different cultures. If you’ve been a listener of the show, I think you’ll know exactly what we mean with creation, fall, redemption, restoration. But for today’s purposes, basically, it’s what we talk about every week. We’re created by God for his purposes, and for his glory. We sinned and that separated us from God. But God, in his mercy, sent his son Jesus Christ to be the ultimate sacrifice for our behalf, rescuing us from his rightful judgement so that we can enjoy fellowship with him again. Now, we’re able to look forward to the day when Christ will return and restore creation, for us to be with him forever.
That is the gospel; that is the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s bad news and then it’s good news followed right up from the bad news. We wouldn’t know that it’s good news if it didn’t have the bad news and understanding of what that is. Now that we’ve defined what the gospel is, and that we want to start preaching that truth to ourselves, what does it mean for a mom in 2018?
Emily: Yes. We’re going to work through some examples of things that probably happened to Laura and I [laughter] ...
Laura: We won’t say they're real examples, but then we won’t say they’re not real examples.
Emily: But maybe they’ve happened to you before. But even if they haven’t, hopefully this gives you an example of what we’re talking about. Let’s just say [laughter] that your kids are getting all up in your biz, and they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing. Your reaction is to yell at them. You realize as soon as you’ve done that – you know, somebody starts crying – and you're like, “Oh man, they're crying, not because they feel godly sorrow, but because I rebuked them in a way I should not have.” Then the horrible mom feeling (the cloud of “I am a horrible mom”) comes down on you.
Laura: Yes, guilt, condemnation. Basically you're feeling all this guilt and all of this condemnation. You feel bad for what you did, and you're starting to feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit prompting you in your heart. A lot of times for me I am fighting it. I don’t want to repent; my pride is in there and I am just fighting it so much. Especially when it concerns my children because “I am superior, I am the adult, and I can do what I want.” I tell myself I don’t owe them anything.
Emily: Step one is self-justification.
Laura: Yes! [laughs] That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in and nudges, and I feel like, “Mm, that is not truth. That is my sinful self talking to me.” As we're talking about, that’s listening to yourself and listening to your natural inclinations. This is where you start to preach the gospel to yourself.
Basically preaching the gospel boils down to looking at yourself through a gospel lens. So the first piece is recognizing and repenting of your sin. What that might look like here is admitting that you should not have yelled at your children, admitting that that was sinful the way that you reacted out in pride, and you reacted out of selfishness. It could be different for different people for different reasons. Admit that sin, stop and repent that, and then remind yourself of truth. Reminding yourself of God’s goodness, of his beauty, and placing your identity back in him.
What that part will look like is you remind yourself that you're not defined by how you just yelled at your children. You are defined by Christ’s righteousness. Emily has used this example on the show a few times before, but you receive Christ’s perfect record of an A, when yours is actually a terrible, awful, big, fat F. Not only do you receive his perfect record, but you also have access to all that Christ has, which means that you can now be patient with your children, and you can speak kindly to them. You can actually go over and apologize; humble yourself, and apologize to your children. Also forgive them for whatever grievance that they have caused you, even if they don’t recognize it, or apologize for it themselves. But because Christ is in you and your identity is found in him, he is working in your heart, and you are able to access the wealth of resources that he has provided for you.
Emily: That is kind of a compilation of some thoughts that might go through your mind as you are processing through this situation. Either right when it happened or after it happened, later in the day or whenever that is. This is where scripture memory is also really important, and knowing what God’s Word says because his Word is living and active. These truths come with a punch. Romans 8:1 is a good example. “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Also remembering something like Psalms 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” When we think about, how I am really, totally free from the penalty of this sin that I deserve, it produces a worshipful heart. It can actually usher us into joy as we look and turn our eyes onto Christ. Instead of remembering and reviewing this situation we were just in with our kids over and over again, and rehearsing, we can move on from it, which is just amazing. That is just one example.
Laura: Really practically, I feel like some of you guys are probably sitting there thinking, “Okay, that sounds really good but I don’t have that kind of vocabulary.” Or, “That doesn’t come super easily to me.” Or, “My thoughts don’t go that way.” I know we’re going to talk a little bit more about the practical later on in the show on how you grow in this skill. But that is what I want to encourage you with here, right in the middle of the show, that don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like you know how to talk to yourself like this. This is a skillset that you will grow in. Know that Emily and I aren’t perfect at this; we’re growing in this skill, and we’re doing a show on it! In the show, we’re really speaking out of a place that says, “Hey, we’re learning and growing and getting better at this skillset, and we want to get better at it along with you guys.”
Emily, do you think it would be helpful to walk through a couple more examples?
Emily: Because there are other examples. Some of you can’t relate to yelling, [laughs] or outbursts of anger.
Laura: Cannot relate to yelling? Who are you? I want to meet you! [laughter]
Emily: But maybe another thing that happens to some of us is, maybe you're just having a hard day. You’re stressed out, and there's lots of pressure. Maybe during that time, or whenever it is, you kind of sneak off into the pantry and break open a bag of M&Ms, or cookies or chips. I don’t know what it is for you, and you just lose self control and eat way too much. It is just a direct coping mechanism, so you can just comfort yourself while you're stressing out.
Laura: Stress eating, yes. Okay, how do you preach the gospel to yourself in this situation? A lot of times we’re probably eating this yummy, sweet treat, and we’re thinking, “I deserve this.” Or, “I worked so hard today.” Or, “This tastes so good.” Or whatever we’re thinking. Reality is, we have to stop up and repent, and recognize our sin. Right? That is the first step. We shouldn’t have responded to whatever that stressor is that caused our binge by losing our self control, and finding our comfort in other things than God. That is the sin issue; that is just recognizing it and then we repent and just remind ourselves, “I should have gone to Christ and I should have leaned on him. But I have already eaten this food, I have already stress-ate hardcore, and so now it’s time to remember.” A great example is in Christ; that he never responded wrongly to stress, and he actually paid for our sin by dying on the cross for our sins. Now we don’t have to be defined by that big, old food binge that we just went through.
Emily: We can be thankful for what he did, and that can help us remember like, “Hey, because of Christ, because of the Holy Spirit in us, we can have self control. Or at least pray for self control going forward, and have hope. Know that at least, at the very least, someday we’re going to be delivered from our inability to control ourselves in certain situations when we want to run to, and depend on God.
I love this line in the New Testament; Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.” Again that is another thing we have in Christ is this “go and sin no more” mentality. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect, but we can continue to turn our eyes upon God, and remember what it is we’re living for. What it is that is the most important thing.
Another example really quick is gossip. Maybe you went to a play date, and you sat down and started talking with someone and sharing about another mom in a way that made her look bad. Maybe you were being judgmental about her choices, or about her heart motivations. As Laura said, the first place to start is to recognize that you’ve already started to doubt your identity in Christ when you're gossiping about someone. You're basically, in so many words, trying to compare yourself to others and make yourself feel better. There is this feeling of, “Well, if she looks bad, and I share this truth, well then does that make what I am doing a little bit more right? Do I feel a little bit more justified?” That in itself is a denial of the gospel.
Laura: In that instance, you haven’t loved your sister-in-Christ well, and you haven’t loved her as a fellow image bearer. That, again, as Emily was talking about, you recognize that sin and then you repent and recognize, “That was wrong, and I don’t want to do that anymore, or be that way. I don’t have to be that way any longer because Christ paid the penalty that I deserve for the sin that I just committed against God. Therefore I am not defined by those words that I just spoke. I am defined by Christ.”
So putting our identity back in him, and while we know that we do deserve judgement for the wrong things that we said, how amazing is it that we receive grace? This is the part of preaching the gospel to our self. Where, as Emily said, it can induce and incite worship and joy because we recognize, “Oh man, I just screwed up really terribly, and I am so thankful that because of Christ, I am going to receive grace right now, and have an inheritance of an eternity with my King because of his sacrifice and death on the cross.” Now we’re able to cross correct - we can speak words of life, we can focus on speaking words that come from the fruit of the Spirit, and tame our tongue with self control. We can walk in freedom. We may need to go back and also apologize to whomever we were with on that play date as well. Make sure that we ask forgiveness for those grievances against the Lord and against others.
Emily: Another thing we can do in addition to preaching the gospel to ourselves that can help us grow in this is sharing this truth with your friends and with those who we are trying to grow in gospel-centered motherhood with. That would be when they are sharing a struggle or a problem. Affirming the reality of the curse and of sin, and how hard that is, and coming alongside them in that, and saying, “Yes, this is hard sister.” But then also reminding her as you’re reminding yourself that we’re no longer defined in that. That’s something we can do with other moms who are trusting in Christ. In that, we can learn to preach the gospel to ourselves as we are telling it to each other because sometimes it’s easier to say to another person than it is to speak it into your own life.
Laura: That is a great way to train those thoughts. Something that I’ve been challenged by this year with my Bible study at my church, is when a mom or any woman shares something that’s going on in her life and is difficult, they have challenged us to ask the question, “Hey, what has God been teaching you in that?” Or, “Have you read anything lately in the Bible that has really challenged you in applying what you're learning towards that situation?”
That’s just some key phrases that have helped me to talk to other moms, and to take a conversation deeper than the whole like, “Oh, I don’t know whether or not to use Pampers or Huggies. What do I do?” That’s a great way to take a conversation deeper when you see a mom having anxiety about diaper brands, which I have seen happen. Preach the gospel to her in that, and remind her where her true peace and identity is found. Obviously a lot of the situations will be a lot bigger, and deeper and more important than diaper choices. But just as an example of just speaking the truth to her in love, and remembering too that, if you don’t speak in love, you're just a clanging gong. So part of the gospel is the love of Christ.
Emily: Definitely pray. This is a major area where I’ve learned to preach the gospel to myself is praying God’s Word, and praying these different pieces over some of the stressors in my day. You can also, again, just study the Bible, and know the big story of the Bible and how it fits together. We have lots of resources on our website for that.
Then there's lots of great books out there that can train you in doing this. Things like a Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent, or Show Them Jesus, by Jack Klumpenhower. Or CrossTalk by Michael Emlet. There's all these different ones – Gospel Fluency - Laura and I have not read that, but we’ve heard it goes through all of these things. We’ll have all of these things on our show notes, but just practice, read about it, think about it and meditate on it. It’s just amazing to see how that can transform our lives.
Laura: Em, did you want to share a little bit of the practical about where this happens – preaching the gospel to yourself?
Emily: Yes. It doesn’t have to happen in a bedroom by yourself with the door closed, speaking out loud. For me, it just happens in the quiet of my mind. When sometimes I can be in the car driving - a lot of stuff happened before we got in the car and I am feeling kind of down about that. That’s when that can happen. Other times it can happen almost when I am laying in bed at night before I go to sleep, or in the early mornings. Sometimes I just need to sequester myself a little bit and take a moment after we’ve had a stressful time. It can happen all throughout the day, and it’s just something I am processing in my mind. Is that true for you Laura?
Laura: It’s not usually audible for me. So for Emily’s literal mind [laughter] over there – trying to appease it – but it’s definitely in my mind, and sometimes it’s in the moment of something happening. Like I will be overreacting to something, or whatever, and I am reminding myself of that truth. There's a tension and it’s hard. Thankfully the gospel will always win. But there is an element too – as Emily was saying – it might happen a few hours later, or a day later. I think that God brings things to mind at different points.
But a lot of this is just really being in tune and in step with the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, and trusting him to work in your life, and respond to that prompting. It is a gift – when you are prompted to repent, that is a true mark of a believer. We just want to encourage you; those nudges that you feel in your heart, do not ignore them. Really pay attention to those pieces - that is where you can preach the gospel to yourself and transform your outlook on your day, and on who you are. Placing that identity right back to where it should be – on Christ.
Emily: Yes. Amen. If you want to find out more about this, you can check out our show notes @risenmotherhood.com. We’ll be talking about it this week on our social media platforms at Risen Motherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for joining us guys.