Out of the Mouth

I’ve been reading through the book of Matthew this month, and you would be surprised at what I’m learning. I’m finding that this book of the Bible has much to teach me. And I must be open to learning these truths. Earlier this week, I read chapter 15 and wow! It says that whatever is in our heart is what comes out of our mouth.

Jesus gives us examples of the types of evil that are in our hearts that then spew from our mouths. Everything gets its start in our hearts. Here we go. Evil thoughts. Murder. Adultery. All sexual immorality. Theft. Lying. Slander. Greed. Wickedness. Deceit. Lustful desires. Envy. Pride. Foolishness. Just to name a few. Jesus says that these things defile us. That means we are polluted and unclean.

When we act and speak in sinful ways, the finger of guilt will point back to our heart. It’s because evil is in us. The words that come out of our mouth are sometimes well thought out. In other words, they are premeditated, the same as other acts of unkindness. But there are also words and acts that are spontaneous. Spur of the moment. Impulsive. And either way. If they’re premeditated or spontaneous, they still come from the heart.

But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you. Matthew 15:18-20

It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you. Mark 7:20-23

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. Genesis 6:5-6

God knows that we’re only evil all the time. That was not his plan for us, but we have disregarded his truth and have charted our own paths. We live as if we are our own god. When God saw all the evil on the earth, he created a plan to clean it up and start over. He caused a flood to fill the earth. It destroyed every living and breathing thing. Animal and human. But before the flood, God had commanded Noah to build an ark. Once the ark was completed, every kind of animal walked onto the ark. Male and female. One of each. And Noah’s family. Noah, his wife, their three sons and wives. They were the only survivors. They were the start of a new people on the earth.

And yet. Here we are. Over time, the earth has once again filled with people. And wickedness abounds. I wonder if God is once again sorry that he put us on the earth.


It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth. Matthew 15:11


I was driving home from the grocery store. For the past few weeks, one section of the road has been under construction. I’m not sure what type of work is being done, but it eventually closes down three lanes to two and then from two lanes to one. So, as you’re driving you have to continue moving into the next left lane. And then you find yourself and every other car in the only open lane.

So, of course, we all know what happens when there are lane closures. The people in the lanes that are closing have to move over, and those in the open lane have to make way for all these extra vehicles trying to squeeze in. Now the problem comes when people in the lanes that are closing wait until the very last second to merge into the open lanes. So when I turned left onto the road with construction, I remembered that the lanes ahead were closed. So I immediately got into the far left lane. That would mean I was in the only open lane until I turned at the upcoming light. I wouldn’t have to try to squeeze into a busy lane of traffic. But, of course, not all those coming behind me did as I did.

As we inched forward, we got past the first lane closure. Then up ahead, the second lane was closing. And, of course, up came a big vehicle wanting to get into my lane. This driver wanted to be in the exact spot I was in, and I couldn’t move. They waited until the very last second to try to move into the last open lane. And the car in front of me wasn’t allowing the vehicle into our lane. So, I begrudgingly thought to myself. I’ll let the vehicle in. So I waved him in. At the same time, here are the words I said in the safety of my car. Come on over, you idiot.

And then up came another car quickly trying to get into my lane. He would have moved ahead of me, if I would have allowed him the space. I decided no. I’m not letting a second car in. The car behind me can take their turn to let this bully car in. So I just continued on and didn’t allow the second car in.

Just as that happened, a parable in the Bible came to my memory. A father told his older son to work in the vineyard. He said no, but later felt guilty and went to do the work as his father asked. The father then told the younger son to work in the vineyard. The son said yes, but didn’t do it. Which son obeyed his father? The one who said no and did the work, or the one who said yes and didn’t work? The son who obeyed did so with a bad heart out of guilt. The other son was a liar.

You can read the parable in Matthew 21:28-32.

I found myself in a similar situation as those two sons. Which of my acts was worse? Pretending to be kind by letting the car in my lane, all the while saying unkind words with a bad attitude? Or not letting the next car in? Sure, I let the first driver in, but in my heart I was letting him know that he should have waited his turn like the rest of us. At least I wasn’t putting on an act with the second car. That’s what I tell myself. Oh. We can usually find a way to justify our actions. But that doesn’t make the act any better. An ungodly act or word is still ungodly. Nothing will change that.

I don’t know why I always have to be the example of what not to do. Just a few moments before the incident, I had been praying and asking God to forgive me for being so human. I asked him to forgive me of my bad attitude and judgmental ways. And I’d hardly spoken those words when I acted like a fool. Of course, the other driver didn’t know that. But God did, because he saw my heart. He heard my words.

I have much to learn. You would think that I would be closer to perfection. The older I get, the more I realize how much I need a Savior. I realize how much I still have to learn. There is much work ahead for this heart of mine, in this lifelong quest to be like God. It’s a never ending struggle. It’s a never ending lesson to learn.

What can and should change is my heart. Repentance. Humbling myself before my Creator, who knows my thoughts and actions. He will forgive. He is willing to clean up my ungodly heart, if I will only ask him. And then I must change the way I act and speak. And it is possible to change. The desire to be godly has to replace the desire to be my own god.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

Out of the Heart

She was looking forward to spending time with her mom.  But then again, she wasn’t.  She said her mom gets mean when she is anxious or afraid.  Her mom cloaks the mean words with sarcasm and humor.  She pretends she’s joking.  As if she doesn’t mean the words she’s saying.  But she does.

And my coworker has been on the receiving end of her mother’s harmful words more times than she cares to remember.  She wants to avoid another one of those situations.  She loves her mom, but she doesn’t appreciate being the target of overly harsh words.

She said she had talked to her mom about it.  My coworker, the unbeliever, the one who never reads a Bible, said that her mom’s problem stemmed from her heart. Because, she said, you say what is in your heart.  And it’s true.  She is so right. 

But, I wonder, how did she know that to be true?  How did she learn it if she hasn’t read the Bible?  I don’t know. 


For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. Matthew 12:34


Then I think about my words.  My thoughts.  What is in my heart that I have tried to hide?  Oh.  It’s become a little clearer to me this week. I’ve been reading John Bevere’s book, “Honor Rewards”.  Every chapter has convicted me.  Not only the words that come out of my mouth need to honor others, but my thoughts do, as well.  Oh.  I know that.  But sometimes.  Sometimes, I can’t get past my thoughts turning vindictive. I realize those thoughts, or even words, are more harmful to me. They’re harming my soul’s eternity.

I know that God knows my every thought.  He knows my heart.  He knows if I really mean those mean words I say.  He knows the unkind thoughts I think.  I realize I have much work to do to clean up my heart.

I read that when we honor others, God will reward us.  I found that to be true this week.  One day at lunch, I read one of the chapters in the book.  I felt convicted about my thoughts of the people in authority over me.  I confessed my sin.  As I walked back into work, my step had a little spring in it.  I felt that my load had been lightened.  I had been unaware of how much my thoughts about others was affecting my mood.

I had been frustrated about a work situation, and I would have these imaginary conversations about it. Doesn’t everyone?  Sometimes in these imaginings, I would confront the person.  Other times, I would talk about them to others.  In my conviction, I realized that I should change my attitude and let things work out by themselves. I’m trusting God to let me know when or if the time is right for a face-to-face conversation.

Later that afternoon, I was sitting at my desk when my manager approached me.  He asked me to do the thing I had been stewing about.  The thing I had been hoping he would ask me to do. He asked. Wow.  What a little repentance will do for a person.  It will open your heart and allow God to give the blessings he has been withholding. 

I’ve learned. Obedience is always the key to heavenly rewards. My reward that day was nothing to write home about. But it sure did open my eyes to what I could be missing out on if I am not faithfully guarding my thoughts and words. God will reward an obedient heart.

Feedback

She asked to meet with me.  She wanted to hear my thoughts on how the job was going.  We chatted.  She offered feedback.  When is feedback ever positive?  Oh.  Her feedback was supplied by someone else.  She named the informant.  I was surprised with the feedback.  But not offended.  After all, I’m new.  I’m still learning.  I’m in training.

Another new person also had a meeting.  She also received feedback.  Feedback that offended her greatly.  She couldn’t let it go.  So she talked to another.  Little did she know that her information would be passed on further.

It seems that these coworkers share more than they should.  They discuss salaries.  Raises.   Performance reviews.  Beefs with coworkers.  Oh.  They’re nice.  But do I trust them?

So I’ve learned.  I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut.  Oh.  I already knew to do that. But now I’m careful what I say and who I say it to.

One, in particular, likes to gossip.  She learned of my meeting.  She knew I had received feedback.  She was desperate to know what had been said.  So she pretended to be friendly.  Asked about my weekend.  She was fishing.  Fishing for information about my feedback.  I didn’t take the bait.  I knew that if I shared it, everyone would know by the end of the day.  That’s not what I want.


Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  Ephesians 4:29


I once worked with another group of women.  They had a meeting to discuss what they didn’t like about each other.  Oh.  Imagine how the tensions flew.  Needless to say, that group fell apart.  Quickly.  By the time I joined the team, all trust was gone.

Why would they do that?  How can people be so cruel?  Why didn’t they instead share what they liked about each other?  Why not build up instead of tear down one another?

I wonder.  What would happen if we would focus on the positive and beautiful instead of finding the juicy gossip or negative tidbits about others?  Why do we instead go for the information that will get us the most laughs or gasps of horror?  When the story is about another?  Why do we do that?

Oh.  You’re guilty.  I’m guilty.  We all have done it.  Most likely.  We all will do it again.  But what if we stopped first and asked ourselves a question.  If this information I’m about to share was about me, would I share it?  Is there a positive story about the other person I can share so others will see them in a better light?  Or.  Why say anything at all?

If someone is talking about others to you, then they’re most likely talking about you to others. 

I learned that lesson years ago in another work situation.  Someone I worked with would tell me unflattering stories about others in the company.  Then it dawned on me one day.  She must also be talking about me to those people.  Because I could see the way they looked at me.

If you can’t say anything nice or positive, don’t say anything at all.  If Jesus Christ was standing beside you, what words would you say?

 

Gossipmonger

I remember the interview as if it were yesterday.  In reality, it’s been 21 years.

She became my boss.  I remember thinking we could probably be friends.  We couldn’t.  Her mood swings were the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  A pendulum of emotions.  I watched every morning to see the look on her face as she walked in.  That one look would tell me how the day would play out.

We had a rocky relationship from the start.  Here, I thought we could be friends and it became the worst relationship of my life.  I was constantly being compared to the person I replaced.   I could do no right.  I couldn’t even ask good questions.  That’s what she told me.

She would tell me about the man who sat across the way from her.  I could never understand their problem.  But she talked about him more than she should have.  She stewed over the fact that he was male and she was female.  Life didn’t seem fair to her.

After many months, she told me the reason.   He knew her deep dark secret.  The one thing she only told a trusted few.  He had guessed.  She had confessed.  From that moment on, she didn’t trust him.  She knew he could out her at any time.  He never did.  But it was the elephant in the room.

Did she hate him because he knew her secret?  Could he not be trusted?  Had he really done anything wrong?  Was she afraid he was going to talk about her just as she talked about him?  Was her fear the enemy of her own soul?

He never said a word.  But he knew her secret.

She used to tell me the faults and misdeeds of others, as well.  I listened.  I noted.  I felt she was trying to sway my opinion.  I came to my own conclusions of those being discussed.  And of her.

You see.  One day the truth dawned.  It was a sad and scary truth.

If she was talking to me about others, then she was talking about me to others.  It’s a hard sentence to read.  It’s a harder truth to swallow.

That’s the way gossip goes.  No one is exempt.  You talk about the one you’re not with.  Your confidant is the one you’re with.  At that moment.

It happens all the time.

Innocent fact sharing.  Purposeful venting.  Secret letting.  Fact checking.  Getting the other side of the story.  Comparing details.  Insinuating evil.  Assuming our words are safe with certain others.

Gossipmonger:  A person who habitually passes on confidential information or spreads rumors.


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14


I think about my conversations.  When have I shared facts just to appear in the know?  When have I vented because the situation turned in someone else’s favor?  When have I spilled the beans about someone else’s life because I was with my best friend?  When have I fact checked just because?  When have I compared details because I don’t want to be confused?  When have I assumed my words were safe with others and they’ve come back to bite me?  When have I talked about others because they were different from me?

After the creation, God saw all the wickedness that was happening.  He saw that the hearts and thoughts of man were only evil all the time. He was sorry he had ever made man. (Genesis 6:5-6).  That smarts.  Smacks me upside the head with the truth about my own heart.  My own words.  My own intentions.

Who am I to judge others’ words and intentions when mine aren’t always pleasing to God?

Words Matter

He enjoyed his work.  The actual work, that is.  He had built strong relationships with co-workers.  People respected him.  People asked for advice.  They asked for his opinion.  They valued him.  They sought him out.  He felt accepted.  He mattered to them.

Then there were others.  They didn’t show respect.  They micromanaged.  They second guessed.  They nitpicked.  They changed the rules without explanation.

Little by little their words chopped off pieces of his heart. His love for the mission was muddled.  His tolerance was short.  His attitude grew cold.

He felt underused.  Devalued.  His years of experience were pushed aside.  His expertise was left unused.  His strengths and skills were overlooked.

I’ve been there.  I’ve had people in my life who were insecure.  Trying to prove their worth by belittling others.  By putting someone in their place when they didn’t know their own place.

Words are powerful.  They can make you feel like a million bucks.  They can make you feel penniless.  Empty.

His love language is words of affirmation.  Too many important people in his life have not affirmed him.  He’s crying out for acceptance.  For validation.  The people who should have said those words never said them to him.

How can a person live life to the fullest when others’ words have damaged them to the point they believe those words?


Be kind to yourself, or you may have less tolerance for people who criticize and belittle you.  No one should be made to feel worthless.


Words

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
(Speak over the fear)
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words

We were having a casual conversation about a couple of people.  About people who didn’t see eye to eye and tried to stay away from each other when they should be trying to get along.  We weren’t saying anything that wasn’t true.  We weren’t being mean.  We were just talking about other people.  Behind their back.  When we thought it was safe to say those words.

Then I turned and there she was.  One of the people we were talking about.  She was sitting there the entire time.  Did she hear our conversation?  We were saying her name.  Talking our truth about her.  We were whispering.  I think.  Does whispering make it ok?  Am I guilty only if she heard me?

I don’t think so.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.  ~Psalm 19:14

I’m guilty of saying the words.  I don’t want to be guilty of getting caught.

I said the words behind her back that I wouldn’t say to her face.  They weren’t mean words.  They were words pointing out someone’s weaknesses.  What I thought were their weaknesses.  I said the words because I thought I wouldn’t get caught.  And now that the person may have heard my words, I’m sorry.  I feel guilty.

I know how I would feel if I heard others talking about me.  Especially if they weren’t singing my praises.  And we weren’t singing anyone’s praises.

I wouldn’t have given the conversation a second thought if she hadn’t been sitting there.  I’m as guilty as those people who make public apologies because they’ve been caught.  Are they sorry for what they did or said?  Or are they sorry they got caught?  I always wonder.

Now I’m walking in their shoes.

Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you—for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.   ~Ecclesiastes 7:21-22