Preach to Yourself

Joe Thorn

Preach to Yourself

Most Christians seem to still agree that preaching is important. We download podcasts and attend conferences that center around preaching, and it remains a primary reason many choose a new church. However, one of the most neglected forms of preaching is also one of the most powerful--preaching to ourselves. 

By "preaching to ourselves" I mean the discipline of intense Biblical meditation; reading, dwelling on, and applying the truths of Scripture to our own lives that leads to a deepening love of God, hatred of sin, and faith in Jesus Christ. 

The idea of preaching to ourselves is popular today, though my experience suggests that it is under-practiced. Perhaps the reason for this is that we aren't clear what it is or how it should take form. But I believe the biggest reason we don't do it is because we believe we don't need to hear the truths we already know. You ever hear the phrase, "preaching to the choir?" 

We use that phrase to explain that what one is saying is already known, and saying it again isn't needed. "Hey man, you're preaching to the choir!" translates to, "I do not need to hear your message." We tend to believe that we only learn something once. 

But the reality is, the more important the truth, the more dangerous it is when we drift from it. And we all tend to drift. We forget. So we need to hear, and hear again, the truths we think we already know. Much of preaching to ourselves is telling ourselves things we are already familiar with. Psalm 73 has been a helpful guide for me in this area as it shows us both the motive and method for preaching to ourselves. 

In Psalm 73 Asaph is wrestling with what he sees in the world and what he believes. Things are not lining up, and it almost ruins him. Despite his good theology he struggles. 

Having Good Theology Is Not Enough
Simply having good theology is not enough. Asaph's confession was beautiful. "God is good to Israel." But our theology is where the battle will go down. Asaph knew God is good to Israel, but it didn't look that way. If our God is good, and present, and sovereign, why do the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer? What he knew was being tested by his circumstances, and he lays out his struggle with envy of the wicked, anger in his circumstances, and unbelief toward God in the first half of the Psalm (Psalms 73:2). 

All of this led Asaph to a dangerous place. His foot "almost slipped." He almost fell spiritually. How does a believer fall? It often happens when we focus so much on our circumstances that they move to the foreground of our lives and wind up eclipsing the larger realities we should be looking to. 

As many of you already know your life will push back on your theology, and this is why we need to push back with the truth of God's word. We need to preach to ourselves. The problem is, when life becomes perplexing or painful we often start listening to ourselves (and our doubts) rather than speaking to ourselves the things we really need to hear. Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote of this in his book, Spiritual Depression. 


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