“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 (English Standard Version)
Last weekend, I had two separate encounters with two women whom I had never met that were several years my senior. In the midst of two completely unrelated conversations on two different days in two distinct settings, each of these rather opinionated women offered strong suggestions regarding how certain things should be done. Suggestions that were at worst offensive and at best lacking in grace.
Each time, my initial [but silent] reaction was something to the effect of:
“Did she really just say that? Where did that come from? We’ve never even met; I would NEVER say something like that to someone I just met.”
[The phrase “pride cometh before the fall” comes to mind…]
As I continued to process these conversations, I came to the conclusion that they were each part of a “life lesson” to warn me of how I could be interpreted by others (especially as I get older) if I did not become less harsh and judgmental (a tendency far too easy for me to fall into) and did not learn to temper my opinions with grace.
[Fast forward a few days…]
Due to my orthodontic treatment (aka: braces), one of my front teeth shifted behind another tooth into an awkward, slightly painful, and altogether uncomfortable position this week. As a result of such an unnatural position, my tongue has been constantly drawn to the displaced tooth. Almost completely unconsciously.
[Now enter the Holy Spirit…]
Because of the unconscious nature of my tongue’s action and as a result of the Holy Spirit working in my heart, in my further processing of the two conversations from the weekend, I was made aware of a far more humbling realization:
This “life lesson” of tempering my opinions with grace is meant just as much for now as for later.
And based on the passage from Luke (see above), it has much less to do with training my speech and much more to do with training my heart. Consider the following:
“My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue…”
Psalm 39:3 (ESV – emphasis added)
“My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verse to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.”
Psalm 45:1 (ESV – emphasis added)
“With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father,
and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.
My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
James 3:9-10 (ESV – emphasis added)
I can choose to use my tongue to praise and bless or use my tongue to hurt and deceive. Although small (read James 3:1-12 for further context), the tongue seems to have a mind of its own, is like a fire, and is often out of control, but the choice doesn’t start with my tongue, it actually starts much earlier with an attitude of my heart, for “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
How will you choose?