Watch your mouth (2)
Reformed Free Publishing Association
This article was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma and will be published in the May 15, 2021 issue of The Standard Bearer. Previous article in this series: March 1, 2021.
Click to read a pdf as printed in the May 15, 2021 issue.
The heart is the source from which flows the whole stream of our life. Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” This is true of our thoughts, emotions, and actions, as well as our words. Proverbs 16:23 says with respect to our words, “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” One of the clearest statements of this truth is found in Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:34-35, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” Later Jesus says, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:18-19).
The source of all sinful communication is not ultimately in the mouth but in the sinful heart of man. Wicked words are motivated by sinful pride and selfishness. Why did I lie to my parents about where I was and what I did on Friday night? Because in my heart I’m concerned about saving my own skin from the consequences of my sins. Why did I blow up and speak angry words to my sibling? Because I did not get my way and my idol of comfort was being threatened. Why did I gossip about that other member of the church? Because in my pride I want others to think less of her and more of me. Those things which proceed out of my mouth come forth from my heart!
In contrast, the source of all holy communication is the grace of God in the regenerated hearts of His children. By the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in us, we have been given new hearts. Those new hearts beat with love for Him who has first loved us, with holy fear and reverence of the all-seeing God, and with gratitude for His gracious saving of us from sin. Out of love, holy fear, and gratitude, we sing praises to Him and confess His name. Out of love, holy fear, and gratitude, we speak the truth in love to our neighbor, to instruct, comfort, encourage, or correct him. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things!
What this means for you and me practically is that the “war of words” is fought not at the level of the mouth so much as at the level of the heart. Yes, we must learn to guard our lips and apply proper principles of good communication in our relationships. But we must also come to recognize the deeper struggle in our hearts. Knowing this, we seek forgiveness at the foot of the cross for the pride and selfishness of our hearts, we pray for grace to guard our hearts, and we beseech the Lord that He would work in us increased love, holy fear, and gratitude. And from hearts filled with such love for God, holy fear, and gratitude, the inevitable outflow will be words like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
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