No one is more influential in your life than you are. Because no one talks to you more than you do.
So observes Paul Tripp — and in doing so, he accents our need to daily preach the gospel to ourselves.
In our sin, we constantly find our responses to life in our fallen world to be disconnected from the theology that we confess. Anger, fear, panic, discouragement stalk our hearts and whisper in our ears a false gospel that will lure our lives away from what we say we believe.
The battleground, says Tripp, is meditation. What is it that is capturing your idle thoughts? What fear or frustration is filling your spare moments?
Will you just listen to yourself, or will you start talking? No, preaching — not letting your concerns shape you, but forming your concerns by the gospel.
Defensive and Offensive
Preaching the gospel to ourselves is a spiritual discipline that is both proactive and reactive. It’s reactive as we encounter temptation and frustration and seek to restock in the moment, or as we reflect back on our sin and circumstances and try to evaluate them with a gospel lens.
But it’s also proactive — it goes on the offensive — when we feed our souls in some regular rhythm before the events and tasks and disappointments of daily life begin streaming our way. Tripp counsels that we make it a daily practice to 1) gaze on the beauty of Christ, 2) remember who we are as a child of God, 3) rest in his power and provision, and then 4) act in reliance upon him.
The Gospel and the Scriptures
There is a difference, Tripp notes, between merely reminding ourselves of truth, and preaching to ourselves the truth of the gospel. The latter is self-consciously and intentionally reminding ourselves of the person and presence and provisions of our Redeemer.
But while gospel self-preaching is not the same thing as Bible reading, the connections and interdependences are profound. The Scriptures, says Tripp, provide the material for preaching to ourselves the gospel of grace. They are the content to be taken up and applied to our lives in view of Jesus’s person and work.
It will not adequately strengthen our soul, in the long run, just to hear the same canned gospel repeated over and over. Neither will it sustain our spiritual lives to merely take in information without seeing it in light of Jesus, and pressing it into our hearts.