The Main Art in the Matter of Spiritual Living

16 Feb

From D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“the first thing we have to learn is what the Psalmist learned — we must learn to take ourselves in hand. This man was not content just to lie down and commiserate with himself. He does something about it, he takes himself in hand. But he does something which is more important still, that is he talks to himself. This man turns to himself and says, ‘Why art thou downcast,  my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me?’ He is talking to himself, he is addressing himself. But, says someone, is that not the one thing we should not do since our great trouble is that we spend too much time with ourselves? Surely it contradicts what you have already said. You warned us against morbidity and introspection, and now you tell us we have to talk to ourselves!

How do we reconcile these two things? In this way. 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. m 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 the unhappiness in your life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you 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 treatment was 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 t 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 who 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 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.'”

One Response to “The Main Art in the Matter of Spiritual Living”

  1. creatorworship February 16, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    Reminding, no insisting upon yourself listening to Scriptural truths is a major remedy for all sorts of temptation and downcast hypochondria of the mind. “Consider yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” “No temptation has overtaken you but is common to man…” “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer…” Distract the self with truth so that it hasn’t the time to go about unprofitable subjects.

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