What Did You Say to Yourself?
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” –2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
I had been a pastor for nine years before I learned how to practically apply this simple Bible verse. I understood it. I had used it as a springboard for many sermons. But I didn’t get it until I was in the U.S. Navy Chaplains School.
While there, we had a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant as our physical trainer. He took a special interest in me, since my first duty station was going to be with the Marine Corps. I was overweight and did not run fast. He told me that he would get me in shape before I left for Okinawa. That meant I would get slimmer and be able to do at least 60 push-ups, 60 sit-ups, five pull-ups, then run three miles in less than 24 minutes.
I am healthy, but why would I want to run three miles? These were my private thoughts but my trainer sensed it passing through my mind. He said, “When you became a Navy Chaplain, you became something that you had never been and these are the new requirements. The guy you were before has passed away and you are a new creation. So, you must see yourself differently and talk to yourself with new language. Your old language was self-limiting. Your new language must become challenging and affirming. Isn’t that scriptural Chaplain?”
Then he gave me two lines to rehearse. He guaranteed me that if I recited those lines when we were working out and running, I would get better and stronger than I had ever been. The lines were: “You can do more than you think you can” and “It is easier to keep going than to stop and start again.”
In eight weeks, I shed 20 pounds. I could do 90 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 8 pull-ups and I ran those three miles, on varying terrain, in less than 24 minutes. It made me feel good be physically fit and it boosted my confidence when I saw that I looked good in my Marine Corps uniform.
Here is the point: Living the new, saved, sanctified life requires that we perceive ourselves differently. We must sing new songs and encourage ourselves. The Scripture 2 Corinthians 5:17 is the micro statement of the expansive theme of the Gospel. It expresses the death of old, limiting mindsets and self-images. The newness suggests a clean slate, new horizons and opportunities for success. That “behold” part, means that the new you must be visible, apparent, remarkable and memorable.
When you are living your new life, speaking to yourself with encouraging, challenging and affirming phrases, this will cause people to marvel. Therein lies your victory!
Believe it! Tell yourself this new truth repeatedly! If you catch yourself resorting to old self-talk, check yourself by speaking, “What did you just say?” Remind yourself that negative self-talk is like grave-digging. It can destroy you. Instead, make a daily effort speak words of life to yourself. Learn how to see yourself how your Creator (God) sees you! He says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) in His image (Genesis 1:27)!
Encourage yourself that you have buried your old self, ways, thoughts and speech. You are living and carving a new lifestyle with new visions and goals. Speak words of life and faith into your new existence. Your dream and goals may not exist yet, but faith and faithfulness please God and Divinity is the catalyst that makes the unseen visible and the impossible, reality.
My prayer for you today is that you will monitor your thoughts and speech today. Inject the Gospel into your saying and doing. Affirm your newness! Assert your possibilities by talking to yourself in positive terms. Check your negativity and pray for the power of God to deliver you from evil and deposit you on the shores of your dreams.
Let’s Pray: Dear Lord of our lives, fill us with your Holy Spirit today. Guide us into the experience of dying to and burying our limitations. Give birth to the purpose for which you allow us to live. Let your voice of encouragement be what we hear that catalyzes our actions and successes. As we live through this day, may those around us see your impact within us. Give to us divine validation and grant us your peace (Philippians 4:7). In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Song of Reflection: “Choose Life” (song) by Big Tent Revival. Listen to it here.
Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.
Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.
He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.
You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address, firstname.lastname@example.org.