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Topic: Power (05/10/04)
TITLE: The Power of the Tongue:The Voice Inside Your Head
By Naomi Deutekom
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“How could I be so stupid?” “I can’t do anything right.” “What in the world was I thinking?” Have you ever said anything like this to yourself? We all know how detrimental the effects of what we say can be on others, but do we ever stop to consider the effects of our internal language on ourselves?
“If anyone does not stumble in word, he is perfect, able to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2b (NKJV). The tongue is a difficult thing for us to control. We hear sermons and read devotionals on how to control or improve our speech, but we don’t often hear sermons on how to control our inner tongue. That inner voice, often called self-talk, is even more difficult to harness than our outward speech. It can be more damaging to our day-to-day existence than anything else we say or do, but it is a helpful clue to what drives our choices and develops our attitudes.
That voice inside our head develops over years of training. It didn’t just happen and it doesn’t go away on command. It can be the result of the voices we hear around us: parents’ siblings’ relatives, teachers, and friends. The voices of others often affect what we think about ourselves. The voice we hear inside our head may sound just like our mother, father, sister, or brother. We may be basing our lives and feelings on what they think or want of us. This can be healthy if the input we got growing up was healthy, but often it’s the negative aspect of what we heard that we have internalized and made our own.
Self-talk relates directly to what we believe about ourselves. Do we see ourselves as valuable, lovable and worthwhile individuals or as worthless and unimportant? As Christians we understand that we are sinful creatures, yet we also know we are God’s creation. We are loved so dearly by Him that He sent His own Son to endure life in a sinful world and bear the pain of death on the cross, just to redeem us. When we rely on negative input from others to determine our value, we negate the value we have in Christ. What we believe about ourselves directly influences our self-talk.
Our value is tied to what we belief about ourselves and the world around us. You may be the only daughter in a family that valued sons. You were probably treated differently than your brothers were. They may have had their college education paid for while you were encouraged to get married. Or you may be the only male in an all female family. Your sisters got new cloths, while you wore thrift store garments. The message a child picks up is that he/she has less value than other family members. We internalize these messages, causing us to develop false beliefs about our value and worth as human beings. The reasons behind the development of those beliefs are limitless, but they are still there. Understanding your history, can help you identify the roots of your self-talk and change you inner voice.
Knowing yourself is important. Try writing down your self-talk for a few days or even a week. You may be surprised at what you are really saying to yourself. Next, you need to evaluate your self-talk and understand what it says about your internal voice and belief system. It’s the old head/heart issue. What you believe intellectually may not be represented by your emotional belief system. Finally, determine whose voice your self-talk represents. What were you told as a kid when you messed up? Are you still trying to escape old voices? Putting it in writing, helps you see the effects and identify the root causes.
Now that you understand yourself, what can you do about it? Paul gives us some help in I Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down of strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (NKJV). The power we have in Christ is available for the challenge. Once we recognize the issues, we can bring them before God in prayer. Sometimes fasting is an effective tool. Enlisting the help of others may be necessary. Recognize that the roots of our beliefs are often strongholds that the enemy does not want us to break. Practice the truth, by learning to identify, cut off, and redirect faulty thinking as it occurs. Renewing our minds in the Word of God and developing our relationship with our Lord, will help develop our beliefs and character in Christ. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed, by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2,
The power of the tongue, both from the inside and the outside, can have a damaging effect on our lives. Changing our inner selves can be a daunting task, but our God has given us the tools we need to do so. The Holy Spirit dwells within us and we have been freed from the power of sin, but we must make the choice to change. The choice is worth the effort. The power of God in our lives is greater than the power of the tongue. It is available at every moment and in every situation. The weapons of our warfare are up to the task. Rest in His power as you battle the ultimate stronghold: the voice inside your head.