Visualization has been a part of elite sports for a long time. Olympic athletes use images of victory to help them achieve their goals and win competitions. Athletes mentally practice and simulate the competition. For example, a down hill skier may sit in a chair, close their eyes, and mentally visualize the downhill course, including every curve and turn.
We too can use believing images of victory to experience great success in our lives. We can picture ourselves speaking God’s Word with confidence and boldness, overcoming hesitation.
Apostle Paul while in prison wrote to people who lived in Philippi (Philippians Chapter 2:15-16). He wrote this letter to express his appreciation and affection for the Philippian believers, and the spiritual truths that she shared with the Philippians back then are applicable for us today. He wrote that we may show ourselves to be innocent and uncontaminated in the midst of crooked and wicked people, among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the dark world, holding out to it and offering to all men and women the Word of Life. Paul had a believing image of the Word of Life being held forth by people who believed in God. We too can build a believing image of ourselves doing the same thing.
One example of a believing image of victory is that we can see ourselves as bold ambassadors for Christ. We can mentally hold an image of ourselves that is described in II Corinthians 5:20, which says that we are ambassadors for Christ. In the King James Version, 2 Cor 5:20 says,
What does "ambassadors for Christ" mean? It means that we are people who can act as representatives or promoters. We represent. We promote. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God was making an appeal through us. We promote, we speak, we demonstrate, we live as examples of how to be reconciled to God. What does it mean to be "reconciled to God."
On a basic human level, when two people (especially two people who are friends) have a disagreement about something, or when one person does something hurtful to the other, it causes a rift in their relationship. The more serious the issue is, or the more one person is hurt by the other (especially if the hurtful actions are intentional), the deeper that rift will be. For those two people to return to their former state of harmony and agreement, it is necessary for those two people to become reconciled to one another -- that is, for one or both people to indicate through their words and/or actions: (a) the reason for the break in their relationship; (b) a responsibility for contributing to that break; (c) some regret or sorrow for those words or actions; and (d) a promise that the cause of the break will not be repeated. Now, God created us to live in perfect harmony and fellowship with Himself. Since God is spirit, fellowship between God and us therefore requires some spiritual work, some necessary thoughts or actions to keep our fellowship connected and in good shape.
God is making an appeal through us (asking others urgently and fervently to do something). We plead on Christ's behalf (we offer or present a reason for doing or not doing something) to be reconciled to God (to build or restore friendly relations between us and God). And that's what Paul meant in his letter. He wanted people to be ambassadors who help people get reconciled or back together with God. And remember, what is God? Creator, Faithful, Good, Great, Powerful, Strong, Spirit, Not a Man, Peace, Father, Supplier, Light, and Love. In 1 John 4:16, it says that God is love. That's pretty plain and simple to understand. What do you love? I love my wife, my children, pepperoni pizza, football, and many other things. But who do you love? Who? Because where there is love between people, there God is.
Prepare to Be Ambassadors
One way to help prepare ourselves to help others build a good relationship between them and God is by seeing ourselves (picturing ourselves) as ambassadors, just like Jesus did. Jesus had spoke, acted, and lived with the authority and dignity to represent God. We can see ourselves just like that, speaking God’s Word in our community and workplace with confidence and boldness. But what does "speaking God's Word" mean?
What should we speak? According to Philippians 4:8, Paul recommends that we could talk to others about:
This is speaking God's Word.
We can see ourselves as ambassadors (representatives and good examples) of living a life that is "reconciled" or connected with power, abundance, and love. We can picture ourselves helping guide someone through a class, a good book, or a fellowship teaching. We can see ourselves as someone that others can simply come to and talk with. We can see ourselves as someone who helps others, speaks well about others, and treats others as we would want to be treated.
Another part of our believing image of victory is to see ourselves speaking the Word boldly and not having any hesitation to hold back our words. In Ephesians 6:19-20, the Apostle Paul believed God to successfully speak as he “ought to speak,” with nothing holding him back. We can certainly believe God to open some doors (opportunities) so that we can speak and talk to other people about what we know and want to share. And we can always picture ourselves opening our mouths and speaking God’s Word with boldness and with love.
Let’s now consider a practical key that will build our believing images of victory and help us speak the Word to others. And that practical key is to set specific goals. Rather than passively expecting circumstances to prompt us to speak God’s Word, we actively seek opportunities to speak for God and bring love and reconciliation to people. For example, we could set the goal to speak God’s Word to one neighbor or person while walking outside in the community. Let’s always remember that God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), so we can be successful in setting specific goals that will help us carry out our believing images of victory in outreach. How many people do you plan to speak God’s Word to the next time you are out in your neighborhood? How about one person? How about speaking something to that one person that relates to that list Paul gave us: Paul recommended that we could talk to others about: things that are true, things that are honest, things that are just, things that are pure, things that are lovely, and things that are of good report. Talk about one of those things.
Another practical key that will help us build our believing image of victory is to further develop our knowledge of God’s Word with a vision of speaking spiritual truths to others. We can prepare ourselves to speak God’s Word. To prepare, we could consider one verse and how to clearly communicate the meaning of that one verse to a person who has never heard it. For example, we could study Mathew 5:16, which says:
That verse says that we can let our lights shine before other people, so that they may see the good things we do and that we give thanks. And when we're out and about in our neighborhood, we can have a great day, do fun things, and express to a nearby person how thankful we are to be living an abundant life. You could say, "Life is good. I'm sure thankful."
We could also prepare examples of how good our life is. The weather is a good common-ground topic that we can also talk about with each other. I could say, "Today's weather is something special. Ain't it? I sure am thankful to be outside enjoying with everyone."
So, prepare. We can prepare to speak. Preparation builds confidence and boldness. Let’s picture ourselves doing that. We will be surprised by how naturally and boldly we can explain spiritual truths to people because we have prepared.
As born-again believers, let’s enjoy building our believing images of victory when speaking to other people and helping people build a good relationship with God. We can see ourselves as ambassadors for Christ, boldly speaking the Word, and sharing with others those simple spiritual truths that we have prepared. Just as great athletes in the world today experience success, we can achieve success in our lives by building believing images of victory!
If you enjoyed this article I wrote for my family, you may also be interested in learning "How to Renew the Mind." You can also drop me an email at email@example.com. Or better yet, like The Kings Guide on our Facebook page. Thank you!
In this article, we'll learn a bit about communicating with each other without worthless words.
In Ephesians 4:29, it says to not let unwholesome (foul, profane, worthless, vulgar) words ever come out of your mouth. Now, I don't know about you, but after a beer with some male friends on a boys night out, some foul words come out. Ya know what I mean?
But that's not what we're talking about here. We're not talking about some friends letting slip some f-bombs. We're talking about how a man can build a person up. Building people up. Blessing people with words that strengthen them up is a clear sign of a mature man, particularly when the words are specific, encouraging, thoughtful, or insightful words that need to be heard. Ephesians 4:29 is a spiritual truth from which to learn how to use speech that is good for the building up of others according to the need and the occasion. And there's a purpose for this type of communication. The purpose is to construct your words in such a way that they will be a blessing to those who hear you speak. Have you ever been in a conversation at a party, and you're talking with one or two other people. Then slowly you notice that a few others start to lean into your circle of conversation, and they start to listen to what you have to say, and you see others start to nod and smile as you speak in agreement. This is a moment that you see the importance of letting no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.
Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
It's a Powerful Way to Live
Doesn’t this sound like a powerful way to live? As mature men, we want our mouths to speak that which is good. In the context of (or in the verses surrounding) Ephesians 4:29 are two verses that give us specific advice on how to do this. Ephesians 4:31 tells us what kind of communication to NOT communicate, to not use in conversation with others, to “put away." Ephesians 4:32 shows us what we can become.
What should we "put away?" Ephesians 4:31 says, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." Let's look at this verse word by word.
Bitterness in this spiritual truth means like a poison. When something is bitter, it's sharp and stinging. Words can sting. Like a bad bee sting. They can't kill you, but man! they can hurt. Bitterness can build up in our thoughts and minds when problems go unresolved or when we hold onto grudges. When we have problems in our minds, our words are problematic. Therefore, we need to pay attention to our words, solve outstanding problems and issues with others, and "put away" bitter, stinging words.
Put away wrath. Wrath in this verse is like anger. Wrath can flare up like a flame. Anger can come out of us particularly when we feel tired. Therefore, get make sure you get some good sleep every night.
Anger used in this verse means indignation which has arisen gradually. It's like a lasting resentment. Prolonged and deep-seated anger needs to be resolved. Pray, ask for help from a spouse, consult with someone else, get help from a trusted friend or maybe even a professional therapist. To communicate well with others, we need to resolve all anger that's within ourselves.
Clamour is an outcry. Ever notice a loud, unruly man who speaks aggressively in a boisterous, brawling manner of speech. This is clamour. We want to put away this type of behavior. No one truly values an out-of-order, loud mouth. Those words are not graceful or good to the use of edifying, so we put them away.
Evil speaking is in reference to slanderous speech that is injurious to another person's good name. A spiritually mature man does not want to purposely injure another. But it can happen if we do not pay attention, if we are not mindful, of the words we speak. Therefore, think about what you say in reference to others. Speak well of others.
Malice indicates having ill will or a desire to injure someone or see them suffer. Simply, we are to put away all malice.
Out of the Heart and Buddha
Jesus taught that the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. The Buddha taught others about using the right kind of speech. By speaking kind and helpful words, we can become respected and trusted by others. Using the right type of speech is one of the noble eightfold paths of enlightenment that he taught. And using the right speech ultimately helps others to end their suffering. And what is the right type of speech? The Buddha taught others to abstain from using words that were lies, divisive, abusive, and idle chatter. This he called "right speech."
I agree. And this all seems to be truthful and helpful.
But Ephesians 4:32 says, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32 shows us what we want to become by using good, right communication to others. We are to be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.
Become Kind One to Another
Kind as it's used here means good, gracious, and easy. It carries the sense of being mild or pleasant as opposed to being harsh, hard, sharp, or bitter. When we are kind, we are actively doing good in spite of someone else's behavior. When we are kind, endorphins in our brains are released. Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort and bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. Kindness gets you high.
Love is Kind
The love of God is kind, as I Corinthians 13:4 teaches us. And gentleness or kindness is a fruit of our spirit (Galatians 5:22). Kindness is spiritual in nature. The sign of a spiritually-mature man is one who is kind to others.
Tenderhearted and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Tenderhearted requires compassion. To be tenderhearted to others means being benevolent, empathic, and showing mercy. We should show, conduct, and express compassion to one another. And in doing so, we become tenderhearted. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of Naropa and Shambhala Mountain Center, taught that the foundation of fearlessness of a warrior king is when that man renounces his hard-heartedness and allows himself to be tender, open, exposed, and fully present. A warrior king is careful to not enclose himself with a thick impenetrable armour, but allows himself to be open, soft, and sensitive.
It can seem very difficult to be forgiving, but Ephesians 4:32 doesn’t stop at “forgiving one another.” The verse continues with “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” What does that mean? It means that for a man to become forgiving to another person, he must recognize that something greater than himself, the ultimate spirit of love, as has forgiven him in this ongoing process of life. We exist because of love and love keeps going. Like a river that flows. If someone has done you wrong, ask, "What's next?" Just as as the river flows, you have changed. You're no longer who you were before reading these words. And so, if you are to forgive others, you must understand that there's other processes in place that make that much easier than you think.
As we put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and all malice and become kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another, the natural result (the fruit that grows outwardly from the tree) will be words that are good to the use of edifying and words that minister grace to the hearer. This is an abundant and powerful way to live.
I hope you find this as some good advice for thinking, living and loving better. If you enjoyed reading this, you may want to check out "To Bring Suffering to an End, One Must Think."