In Luke 6:45 Jesus says “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (ESV)
Out of all that we have stored up inside of us, our words flow. That sure is a bold statement – and is one that can bring us some strong emotions. It can bring joy and peace in instances of someone that is known for their kindness and gently spoken words. As I think about my grandmothers, this verse lets me know that I’m not bias in thinking that they were pure hearted – because the kindness they showed and encouraging words that they spoke reveal to everyone the purity of their heart. On the other hand, this verse can also be scary if we know that what we’ve said and shared with others doesn’t live up to God’s standard. It’s scary because, we can’t fall back on the excuse that we were ‘justified’ or even ‘just joking’ – because Jesus is telling us that these times reveal what is in our heart.
Words reveal our heart – but do they betray us?
I pray that the answer is no, but if they do, what can we do?
There is an old song that I first learned in Hope Hull, Alabama at the Liberty Church of Christ called ‘Angry Words, Oh, Let Them Never’ by Horatio R. Palmer that has been on my mind today. The first verse goes:
Angry words, oh, let them never
From the tongue unbridled slip;
May the heart’s best impulse ever
Check them ere they soil the lip.
And it has me thinking… the angry, bitter and jealous words. The gossip, those phrases that are used to cut, and even the ones used to make people laugh at the brashness of the joke. How do I stop them? In the song, it makes it sound like I just need to stop them before they soil my lips. The problem is, I’ve been there before. I’ve been where – my mind went quickly, it was natural, and the unclean words were seemingly the right way to respond. The words jumped to my lips and my only recourse was to bite my tongue. Painful, but effective in the moment. What I know though, is that this doesn’t do anything to change my heart. Biting my tongue didn’t make me kinder, more holy or loving. If it did anything, it just helped me keep other’s misconceptions about me intact.
If we want to really change, we have to go to the source of the problem… our heart. If I love you, I won’t say all kinds of evil about you. If I love you, I will not slander your name, talk behind your back in gossip or respond bitterly to requests you make. If I love you, I will want you to go to heaven. So not only will I seek to never hurt you, but I will also seek to build you up. From the life I lead to the jokes I speak.
But what makes me love you? Isn’t it my relationship with God? As Jesus is sitting beside the lake after his resurrection, his message to Peter is – If you love me, then feed my sheep (John 21:17). If you love me, serve those that I love. So, as I think about how I’m going to make sure that my words reveal a heart that God will be proud of:
- I need to make sure that I have been reconciled to God,
- I need to go beyond acknowledgement, and make sure that I truly love Him.
- I need to get busy loving and serving those He loves.
Then, as my heart is joined to His, my words will be the evidence. So where are you in this journey? What do your words say about your heart, and what steps will you take next?
Striving alongside you for the prize,