External Dialogue

One of the fun things about my daughter is that she has not yet developed anything resembling an inner dialogue. Every thought that runs through her head comes out as a sort of self-narration through the day. “Miss is eating grapes.” “Miss sees bunnies.” “Miss play in kitchen.” “Miss wash hands.” “Miss go upstairs now and play with trains.” There are no mysteries, and that can be advantageous to keeping her safe at times. “Miss going downstairs without railing,” she proudly proclaims, and both of us are suddenly scrambling to the staircase.

It’s almost a shame we grow out of this habit of self-narration. Sure, it’s a good thing we don’t verbalize thoughts like, “Man, brother Joe needs to brush his teeth,” or “Wow, sister Sandy could stand to lose a few pounds.” That would get us into a lot of trouble, but it also might make us think twice about entertaining such ungracious thoughts. Likewise, we might reconsider engaging in sin if our actions were self-narrated. “Now I’m going to cheat on my taxes.” “It’s time to steal some office supplies now.” “I’m objectifying our waitress right now; don’t mind me.”

Think about how Jesus would interact with the Pharisees. Their thoughts and motivations were as open books to him. Take Luke 6:6-11 as an example:

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him.

But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But [the Pharisees] were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

To Jesus, our inner dialogue that we so easily dismiss is like a running narrative. The Pharisees come to him, seemingly innocent enough, bringing a man in need of healing. While they approach, it is as if they are saying, “We’re taking advantage of this poor man to try to play a petty trick on Jesus and win back some of the popularity and power he’s taking from us.” He knows their secrets, their thoughts, their intentions. They have a running narration of which they are unaware.

We can keep secrets from each other. We can keep secrets from ourselves, but we can’t hide our sins and our intentions from God. So next time you are going to do something questionable, stop and narrate it. “I’m going to go visit an immoral website while my wife sleeps in the next room, and I think she’ll never know about it.” How does it sound? What would you think if you read about someone else doing what you’re about to do? Maybe it will give you pause, and, if you pause, you might find yourself avoiding it entirely.

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