Words

See the source image

David posed the question: “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1) Part of the answer is “He who speaks the truth from his heart” (v.2). God demands truth – because He is truth. But truth is pretty hard to find these days. Thanks to social media, anybody can have a platform from which to espouse their brand of truth. But it is worth listening to? Does it agree with the source of truth?  Before you and I take their message to our hearts we need to ask one more question: what does their message say about their heart? Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What comes from the lips says everything about a person’s heart – about who they really are. Are their words angry and venomous? Are they boastful, profane, and disrespectful? If their words are all about themselves then so are they.  Any “wisdom” they offer will only serve them and not you. Are their words kind, helpful, beautiful, encouraging, and uplifting? Do they speak the truth? A person’s words tell you the true condition of their heart. Especially in those unguarded moments of an emotional response.

Here’s why this matters – when you absorb someone’s words, you are, in a sense, taking on the condition of their heart.  Do you want a heart like the latest celebrity or athlete? Do you want your heart to resemble a politician’s? Perhaps it’s time to evaluate the voices you are listening to. Whose Twitter feed are you following? What music do you listen to? What t.v. Shows are you watching? There’s so much we can’t control, but where we have a choice, let’s choose to hear from good hearts full of truth because what goes in our ears touches and shapes our own hearts.

And by the way, the same thing applies to your children (and grandchildren). They are literal sponges – what are you allowing them to absorb? What is shaping their very impressionable hearts? Who are they becoming because of what they are hearing?  And most importantly, how are your words towards them and around them? What are you planting in their hearts?

Yes, you’ve heard this from me before, and you’ll hear it again because it is so important. Go back to what Jesus said –words reveal the condition of the heart. What are your words saying about you, Beloved?

What’chu Talking About?

See the source image

Just an observation:
I’m studying Titus and came to 2:7 – Paul is exhorting Titus to always set an example for younger Christians in all things, but especially in his words, with “integrity (that’s speaking the truth), seriousness (which has at its root ‘dignity’) and soundness (words that build up and promote healing). Paul said if Titus (and by extension you and me) will let these things govern our mouths, the people who try to oppose him (and us) will be put to shame. And “they will have nothing bad to say about us.”
That tells me a couple of things:
– Our mouths can make or break our testimony. (Yikes!)
– Our words can bring about opposition or they can bring shame on those who mock us.
– Our words (and yes our behavior – but keep reading) reflect well or poorly on the whole Body of Christ. What you say affects the reputation of the Church and of Christ.
People can hear you even if they can’t see you. Think about it. Paul spoke with written letters. Radio and television spread voices even farther. But when in human history, have you been able to share your words with so many people outside of your physical sphere of influence. Some of you reading this have never met me nor I you. But you are receiving my words. So I’d better be speaking truth with dignity to encourage you and build you up.
Why do our words matter? Because God is the author of words and language. “In the beginning, God said . . .” The universe was created by the power of God’s spoken word. And John called Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God – “The Word” (John 1:1). Words have their beginning in the eternal God who created all things and rules all things.  Paul said that “faith comes from hearing the message . . . through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). And salvation comes with the spoken confession: “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9-10). Our words matter because they represent God. Beloved, remember that the next time you open your mouth.

The Sponge Principle

Read Matthew 12: 33-37

A few of years ago I had an “SVT Episode,” a Supraventricular tachycardia – or extremely rapid heartbeat.  In the Emergency Department, blood was drawn for lab tests and I was hooked up to an EKG machine to monitor my heartbeat, which was soon brought back to normal rhythm.  It was not a life-threatening episode, but it was very frightening.  In follow up visits to a Cardiologist, he ordered an echocardiogram or ultrasound test to determine how my heart was functioning.  During the echo, the technician turned the monitor toward me so I could see my heart in action.  It was fascinating to watch my heart beating on the screen, and I was grateful that there was no damage to my heart and no major problem was found.  Modern medicine has developed many techniques and procedures to examine every part of our human body.  Doctors can assess our health with near pinpoint accuracy, and prescribe appropriate measures to restore or maintain our body’s health.

As wonderful as these medical marvels are, they cannot measure the health and wellbeing of our spiritual heart.  But there is a sure way we can know the true condition of our heart.  “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Matthew 12:34  Jesus says that what comes out of our mouth exposes the condition our heart.   Did you just wince like I did?  What do our words say about our hearts? I confess that my words of complaining and grumbling reveal a heart that is often ungrateful.  Gossip stems from a jealous heart.   Words of hatred or anger boil up from a heart full of bitterness.  Think what vile heart condition is revealed by the use of profanity.  But it doesn’t have to be so ugly.  Words of praise, thanksgiving, encouragement and kindness surely reveal hearts that are rich in love, joy, gratitude and peace – a heart steeped in the Lord.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”  Matthew 12:33

In verse 33, Jesus said that the condition of a tree’s fruit  reveals the condition of the tree.  Likewise the fruit of our lips reveals the health of our heart.  Good words come from a healthy heart, and bad words from an unhealthy heart.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t just leave us hanging with unhealthy hearts. He offers the remedy.  In verse 35 he says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”  The condition of our heart is caused by what we store there.    What we store up feeds our hearts and tumbles out of our mouths.  Jesus is telling us what computer programmers call – GIGO – “Garbage in, garbage out.”  What we choose to take in – what we look at, listen to, read and discuss – becomes, by definition, the “treasure” in our hearts.  What am I reading? What kind of music do you listen to? What television programs and movies am I watching? What websites are you visiting online?  Who do you spend time with, and what do you discuss? Now I know you are probably not dwelling on the “dark side.”  Your choices are not so bad.  But here is the question I ask myself continually – will this program, this magazine, this movie or online site, or this conversation strengthen my Christian walk?  Will it help me to grow deeper roots?  Will it help me become more like Christ?

It’s what I call “The Sponge Principle.”  Whatever a sponge absorbs, it will express when squeezed.  If I am exposing myself to sour attitudes, sexual content, anger or violence – when I am “squeezed” I will express ugliness.  But what if the things I choose to take in aren’t as bad as all that?  The principle still applies. If I am only sitting in tepid water, I will produce a tepid spirit.  But – if I am purposefully absorbing God’s Word, enjoying the fellowship and influence of godly people, and the goodness of praise – when life squeezes me, what comes forth is the evidence of God in my heart, things like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  I want my life to always express the beauty and blessedness of God.

Jesus tells us how to measure and recognize the condition of our heart, and how to restore an unhealthy heart back to wholeness.  What does the fruit of your lips say about the status of your heart?  Do you need to make some changes in what you are soaking in?

Holy Father – I want my lips to reveal the heart of Christ in me.  Please help me to make godly choices that will grow a godly heart.   Amen