Four-Eight That

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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. –Philippians 4:8

Years ago, one of my children struggled with negative self-talk. I figured this out because he began acting out, saying hurtful things about himself and others. I asked him one day why he felt it necessary to use the negative words, and his reply was, “Well, that’s what I’m hearing in my head.” We talked for a while about words and their power. We talked about words that hurt and words that bring life. I told him the things we say to ourselves in our mind define who we become and the way we act. When we say derogatory things about ourselves, we feel depressed, devalued, and defenseless, but when we say up-lifting things, we feel encouraged and empowered. These perceptions we have cause us to respond and react to others in ways both good and bad. When we speak life to ourselves, we typically speak life into others, but when we speak death to our own hearts, we kill with our words.

Together, we opened God’s Word, and I showed him Philippians 4:8. I asked him if the things he allowed his mind to think about himself were true. His reply, “Not really.” Were they noble, right, and pure? “Not at all,” he said. Were they lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy? “No ma’am they are not.” Then I encouraged him to think of some true things to say out loud about himself. We came up with things like helpful, creative, persistent, bold, and brave. I told him that the next time he heard a negative thought about himself or someone in his mind, to “four-eight” that thought. We even made up a hand motion to go along with the phrase.

What about you? What are you saying to yourself these days? Are you speaking life or death about you? Make sure whatever you are saying is truth. Make sure when you think about yourself, you think pure and lovely thoughts. If there is a sin or some wrong attitude or action you’re facing, take the issue before the Lord and deal with it. But don’t self-destruct by launching damaging word-missiles at yourself.

Speak life. Speak encouragement. Speak hope and love and righteousness into your heart, friend. You will find that as you use words of life about yourself, you begin to speak to others with life and love as well. So, the next time you launch a word-missile, four-eight that thought and choose life words instead.