The Roots of Words
When I was a boy, my mother told me to never forget these words. More than 50 years later, clearly I haven't: "There isn't anything that comes out of the mouth of a drunk that wasn't there in the first place."
We were at a family reunion, and an uncle had consumed too much alcohol and began saying sexually perverse things. Knowing the excuses that would follow, my mom took the opportunity to disciple us with street-level theology by sharing what the Lord said:
"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, ESV)
This may be difficult to accept, and it will require a humble and honest examination: You and I are more like my uncle than unlike him.
Maybe we have a little more decency and don't get drunk and speak perversion in public, but we do share three things in common:
1. Our hearts are not completely free from evil;
2. We speak evil more regularly than we think;
3. We blame that evil speech on outside triggers (annoying people, stressful situations, alcoholic beverages, etc)
Have you ever said, "I didn't mean what I said" after realizing you said something ungodly? The more biblical response would be to say, "Please forgive me for saying what I meant!"
You see, if we are going to understand our trouble with words and find a solution, we must begin with the heart. What we say with our loose lips reveals what we desire with our sinful hearts.
James 4:1 summarizes it best: "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?"
Friends, it would be much easier to pick up a book entitled 101 Ways To Fix Your Talk, filled with strategies and techniques to help select and implement the right vocabulary. But that wouldn't solve any root issues.
That's why God wrote a better Book. It's the only Book that provides ultimate hope and lasting change. James says in this book, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil ... Purify your hearts." (4:7-8)
The gospel promises nothing less than a new heart, one that is no longer enslaved to the passions and desires of the sinful nature. And with that new heart comes good treasure, from which better words come.
- What was the last ungodly conversation you had or quarrel you engaged in?
- Afterwards, did you attempt to make excuses for your sinful words? Who or what did you blame?
- What did your words reveal about the desires of your heart? Be specific.
- Apply James 4:7-8. How can you take practical steps to submit to God, resist the devil, draw near to God, cleanse your hands, and purify your hearts?