Preaching the Gospel to Yourself Every Day2
Preaching the Gospel to Yourself Every Day
Debbie Stafford once told me that in Cali, Colombia, where she and her husband Ron serve as missionaries, “It takes all day just to live.” You go to the market two to three times a day to purchase food, you wash clothes by hand, and you spend most of the day attending to basic chores that are often taken for granted in the U.S.
I have often thought about Debbie’s comments while we are on “lockdown.” Everything takes longer. You must wash your hands – many times a day – for twenty seconds. Jim McLaughlin has pointed out that is how long it takes to sing the Doxology. Good practice. Yes, I am referring to both.
We are wiping down items and surfaces, and we are cleaning all day. We are putting on and taking off masks (well, I have not yet worn a mask, but I haven’t been to the store in almost a week). And while we delight that we are able to see one another’s faces and hear voices through Zoom or Google Meet, the meetings are longer and require more focus – it is hard to “read the room” when you are looking at Celebrity Squares on your screen.
Spending more time with the basics is not all negative. I am quiet enough to discern the battle going on in my heart and mind between the Spirit and the flesh. Even though Alison and I are considerably busier now than we were before we were confined to our home space (no kidding), when I open my Bible to read and pray, my heart does not feel rushed. I may have the same amount of time for personal time with the Lord as I did one month ago, but when I do not have to leave the house, I feel more settled. It will not surprise you that I am seeing more than I usually do in Scripture. Do you know what I see the most? The gospel!
I am a sinful human being (I have more time to realize this, as well). Yet, in his mercy, God the Father sent his Son to live the life I could not live and to die the death I deserved. He did not stay in the grave, though. Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice in our place (Romans 4, but especially verses 23-25). His resurrection promises that we will live, in our bodies, for eternity, with Jesus (1 Corinthians 15 – the whole chapter!). Jesus’ resurrection gives us the power to live as he has called us to live – impossible apart from our union with Christ (Romans 6:1-13; Philippians 3:10-11; Colossians 3:1-4). The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to my sin, and he opened my heart to Jesus. That is the gospel. I believe!
Does the gospel still matter to the believer? Oh, yes! When we are first saved, we readily give praises to God and we think that He did all this for me. He did! But we can easily slip into patterns we practiced before we were saved. “God saved me, now it is up to me to live for him.” Well, yes, but, NO! The Bible, as Mike Church put it so well, is not about me – it is about the Lord. And, that is a good thing for me!
There is a war raging inside me, even if I am unaware of the chaos. The war is between the Spirit and the flesh, the new man and the old man, Jesus and Adam. The gospel reminds me that it is not about me doing better – even though I may have a deep desire to do so – but, it is about “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:27), and “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:16.).
The benefits of daily preaching the gospel to yourself are endless:
A willingness to extend forgiveness
Deep desire for others to know Jesus
Anticipation of Jesus’s return
You can surely add to this list.
I have often said, in these past few years, that I have discovered the best way to preach the gospel to myself is to read the Liturgies of the Hours, in Every Moment Holy. The liturgies for Daybreak, Midday, and Nightfall, all remind me that Jesus not only makes eternal life possible, but he makes life, now, worth living – for others!
Now that you have time, preach the gospel to yourself. Every day!
p.s. Just in case - Every Moment Holy