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