About three years ago, I discovered that the reason I couldn’t walk half a block without puffing and blowing like an overworked steam engine wasn’t just because I was out of shape, and that weird aching in my left arm wasn’t just because I pulled a muscle. I had reached that stage of life where guys like me who haven’t had at least one stent inserted in some vital coronary artery just aren’t keeping up. The medical folks ran a device up through one of my arteries to see what was going on in there. They discovered that I had a blockage that would potentially veto my plan to live a lot longer, and they proceeded to fix it. Amazing. What an unspeakable blessing to live in a culture where such things are possible and accessible to so many.
Profound Implications ~
Doctors have always been concerned about the role that the human heart plays in our overall health, and they’ve always wanted to be able to see what’s going on in there. It’s an appropriate concern because God, who designed and created the physical heart, used it to illustrate how equally vital the condition of our eternally existing “spiritual heart” is. So, from either perspective, what’s going on in the “heart” has profound implications regarding our overall well being. Solomon had much to say about both sides of the issue. For instance:
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)
A sound heart is life to the body… Proverbs 14:30a (NKJV)
Medical science has made incredible strides in our lifetime in the quest to see what’s going on underneath the surface. When I was a kid, I always dreaded that point when the doctor would reach for that jar full of little wooden gagging paddles and pull one out. Then he’d say, “OK, now… Open wide.” Then he’d poke his stick down my throat ‘til it felt like my guts were going to come out. He’d shine his light and peer down my esophagus like he was trying to see all the way to my lower intestine and say “Um hum… Um hum.” I asked my grandma why he did that, and she said that looking into my mouth would help the doctor know how sick I was. I didn’t realize until many years later how well her explanation of the doctor’s procedure correlated with a similar diagnostic exam that Jesus revealed.
A Different Procedure ~
Looking into my mouth and throat could reveal important clues to the status of my overall physical health, but the spiritual exam is a little different. Instead of looking for visible things in my mouth that are outside the normal, healthy range, the spiritual procedure involves listening to what comes out of it. Jesus made it clear that the content of our speech is a reliable indicator of spiritual heart trouble. Matthew records one of Jesus’ sobering comments to some of His detractors about that.
“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37 (NKJV)
Dishonest, duplicitous, and foul language does for the spiritual heart what a catheterization does for the physical heart. The produce of our mouth reveals what’s going on inside, and to borrow my grandma’s assessment, it’s one of God’s ways to diagnose how sick a person is. That thought comes to mind when I hear some of the language being thrown about in public places these days, and not just in bars and locker rooms.
A Recent Example ~
For instance, an award-winning Hollywood icon has had his face on TV screens several times lately, though not as a character in a movie or TV series. What stood out about his TV appearances wasn’t his list of cinematic achievements, his fashionable attire, or his impressive stage presence. Sadly, it was his foul mouth. He sounded like someone in a contest to see who could manage to insert the “f” word the most times in the fewest number of sentences. While I will defend his right to speak whatever filth fills his heart, I’m appalled that we grant a public platform to anyone who has such little respect for their audience, or for reasonable social decorum, or for that matter, for themselves. Those in media and “entertainment” aren’t shocked or bothered by it at all, though. They just laugh and talk about how easily he drops “the ‘F’ bomb.”
The popular culture has subjected us to an astounding display of irony these days. On the one hand, in some situations people face losing their jobs and maybe even face criminal charges if they refer to someone by using the wrong personal pronoun or ask about their citizenship status. On multitudes of college and university campuses and government agencies, words are stricken from the list of acceptable speech. In the digital world, one of the fastest ways to have a blog site blocked or a social media page shut down, or at the very least to be overwhelmed with a tsunami of hateful comments, is to use a word that the algorithm carefully constructed by the PC police doesn’t like. Once it locks in on one unacceptable word, all the other words in your post are considered dangerous and unacceptable as well. The irony is that none of that sensitivity seems to exist when it comes to the verbal sewage that flows unabated through these same social media outlets. Clearly there are numerous conflicts going on in our land, but the battle for control over the words we’re allowed to speak is one whose implications are far more extensive than many recognize.
So here’s the thing. Communication is vital, and speech is the most commonplace means by which it takes place. The words we speak with our mouths are directly connected to the things we believe in our hearts, and out of that wellspring will flow “the issues of our lives.” The battle for control over the words we’re allowed to speak, and ultimately over the ideas we’re allowed to believe, is one whose implications are far more extensive than many recognize.
A Different Kind of Response ~
It’s clear that the adversary has opened his mouth wide in an effort to silence ours. The challenge on our end is to counter those efforts with words that come from a redeemed heart, and that proclaim words that offer hope. As Paul admonished:
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. Colossians 3:8-10 (NKJV)
Sometimes when we consider the scope of the challenge we face, it seems overwhelming, but there’s a promise God made to His people long ago that we can still claim today, He said:
I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10, NKJV
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- “Clearly there are numerous conflicts going on in our land, but the battle for control over the words we’re allowed to speak is one whose implications are far more extensive than many recognize.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The words we speak with our mouths are directly connected to the things we believe in our hearts, and out of that wellspring will flow “the issues of our lives.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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Amen! I am very concerned, as you are, about the language and “other things” allowed to be seen on tv. I worry that our children are seeing this as acceptable language and “other” things. My concern for our children as future adults is more than I can express.
Thank you, Shirley– and forgive me for being so long reacting to your comment. We were traveling all week and I was way out of my routine. I join your concern for our children and grandchildren and praise God for your faithful stand, which will help them stay strong when their challenges come.
I’m reminded, too, Ron, that what comes out of a man defiles him, not what goes in. May we ever guard our hearts and measure carefully the words that we speak. Blessings!
Aren’t those simple truths profound, Martha? In this ridiculously complicated world, the power of His simple truth is incredible, and so refreshing. Thanks again for your insights my friend, and forgive me for being behind in recognizing your comment. We’ve been traveling all week and I’m way outside my routine.
Amen sir. Nothing else to say here my friend; you nailed it (as always). God’s blessings Mr. Ron.
Thanks again, J.D.– sorry to be slow acknowledging your welcome comment. We’ve been traveling all week and I’ve been way outside my routine, which is sometimes too slow anyway. I appreciate you, my friend, and praise the Lord for your faithful stand in these dark days.