THE WELL OF THE HEART
Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defies the man. Matthew 15; 11
In Jesus day, people were more particular about foods than a conference of dieters! They had rules about what you could eat and what you couldn’t eat, and they had rules about the rules. They were convinced that the food people ate could bless them or ruin them, but Jesus turned their thinking upside down. He told them that what goes into their mouths isn’t as important as what comes out of them. Our words reveal the content of our hearts, and our words have the power to create or to destroy, to heal or to hurt.
Most of us think very little about our communication, even with those we love the most. We’ve developed habits of staying the same things in the same ways to the same people, and these habits seem to work well enough. But do they? We need to be more intentional about the words we say to one another. Healing messages say, “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” and “You’re really good at that!” Critical words cut like a knife. And sarcasm is the same knife with a pearl handle. Silence, too, can be just as deadly because a person’s self-doubt often feels their emptiness.
Words reveal what’s in our hearts. If what spills out is often negative biting, caustic, or sarcastic, we need to ask God to fill the well with faith, hope, and love so that positive words come out by the bucketful
“What comes out of your mouth is determined by what goes into your mind”.
I ran across today’s writing and thought it was appropriate to share especially in our social media environment. Those who join us in our Wednesday Bible study are familiar with the issues that arise from what comes out of our mouth. James tells us that the most difficult task we have it to control that little part of our bodies- the tongue. Proverbs says that words are so powerful that they hold the power of life and death. If we think about that for a second we will consider what comes out of our mouth and how that can either be an encouragement or discouragement. We through our words can affect others in powerful ways. Sometimes life can turn on a word spoken in time. How many people are there who could testify that they made it through a difficult time because someone spoke a word of help or encouragement at just the right time. Others can tell of times when their spirits were crushed by an ill spoken word of discouragement or worse words of hurt.
We have to think about more than the words that come out. We have to consider the source. I’m sure it’s been said many times in better ways, but however it’s said, what goes in will come out. If we choose willfully to subject our minds and spirits to negative, derogatory, sinful influences then more than likely at some point those kinds of words will come out of our mouths. If, on the other hand, we choose to fill our minds with the things of God we will find the Word of God becoming interlaced with our words.
Unfortunately in our society today it appears that there is unconcern with how words are used. We spend great amounts of time trying to become more aware of our words and how they affect relationships. We’ve even coined the phrase “politically correct” that translates to mean socially acceptable. What we find is that there is a lot of incendiary rhetoric designed to stir up division and anger. Many who instigate such words do so for personal gain rather than working to bring people together.
Christians are called in particular to speak different than the world speaks. That’s because Christians operate from a different standard- the standard of Christian love. The world’s love is not the same as Christian love. Much of the world’s effort is self-centered and when things don’t go to its liking words fly. Sometimes they try to tear down, hurt or destroy anyone or anything that they think stands between them and their wants and wishes. But Christians, even in correction, speak words that build up, encourage and help.
There is no greater example of the Christian way of using words than what we read in the messages to the seven churches by Christ. Here’s one example but you will find the other six with the same pattern.
“To the angel (divine messenger) of the church in Sardis write: “These are the words of Him who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your deeds; you have a name (reputation) that you are alive, but [in reality] you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen and reaffirm what remains [of your faithful commitment to Me], which is about to die; for I have not found [any of] your deeds completed in the sight of My God or meeting His requirements. So remember and take to heart the lessons you have received and heard. Keep and obey them, and repent [change your sinful way of thinking, and demonstrate your repentance with new behavior that proves a conscious decision to turn away from sin]. So then, if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you [still] have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes [that is, contaminated their character and personal integrity with sin]; and they will walk with Me [dressed] in white, because they are worthy (righteous). He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God] will accordingly be dressed in white clothing; and I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess and openly acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels [saying that he is one of Mine]. He who has an ear, let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Jesus begins by saying “I know you” indicating that there is an existing relationship. I’m sure the church at Sardis had no doubt that Christ loved them. Christ next brings to the table their discrepancies. That would have been an easy place to stop. Just point out the wrong and walk away leaving them in the despair and misery of their failure. But Jesus goes on. He not only points out the discrepancies but He offers corrective measures. Again it would be easy to stop here letting them make the corrections because “it’s the right thing to do.” But Christ takes it a step farther and offers a reward when they make the corrections. In the whole of the conversation He chooses words of encouragement and words of help and hope.
May this be our lesson so that even in those times of having to have difficult conversations that we choose wisely and carefully our words. Words are truly the reflection of our hearts.
Dr. John Thompson