The Bible says a lot about how we talk and the important role our speech plays in our lives.
In the post entitled "Guard Your Heart (How to Keep Yourself from Sin)," I talked about the importance of replacing bad (i.e. worldly) input sources with good ones. Flooding your life with positive influences while ridding yourself of bad influences will pay off in the four aspects of life that GOD is concerned about:
- What you think.
- What you do.
- What you feel.
- How you speak.
In this post, I want to focus more on the impact that guarding our heart has upon our speech.
Recall Jesus' statement:
45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
(Luke 6:45 NIV)
Have you ever said something and then, a while later, stopped and thought about what you said and then felt embarrassed or ashamed at yourself?
Who hasn't, right?
If we're honest, this probably happens more often than we'd like.
But have you stopped to think, "Why did I say that? Where did that come from?"
While the exact specific reason(s) may be elusive, the general answer is, "Because that's what was in your heart."
I don't know how this strikes you, but for me, I find it saddening.
"GOD, why was that in my heart?!? How did it get there?"
Some of our most regrettable moments in life come not from our actions but from our mouth.
GOD knows we struggle with our speech. He inspired James to write these words:
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
(Jam. 3:2-8 NIV)
The key to making our speech Christ-like is to make our thoughts Christ-like.
Paul expressed the thought this way:
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Cor. 10:5 NIV)
In order to make our thoughts Christ-like, we must be intentional about what we allow into our minds.
So much of humanity's problems are due to a failure to think about the consequences of what we're doing (or not doing).
That's why Paul says we must take every thought captive.
This is much like a guard's post outside a military base.
When a thought pulls up to the guard's station, the guard examines the thought, and if it is found to be unlike our LORD, the guard denies passage to the base (our mind), dismissing the thought.
Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians:
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Phil. 4:8 NIV)
If I am routinely putting thoughts into my mind that are worldly in nature, such as lustful images (e.g. music videos with immodest dress, provocative dancing; suggestive magazines, movies, or TV shows), music, or conversations with other people, then of course I am going to struggle with these temptations more and will likewise find myself speaking more worldly.
Reflect on this: Would Jesus be ashamed of your speech if He were physically present beside you? What about your parents, church friends, children, etc?
If so, this is a good indication that you need to change.
But don't just focus on changing your speech alone.
Instead, search for those negative influences that are corrupting your heart and leading to the inappropriate speech.
Paul gave the Ephesians this warning, which certainly applies to us just as much:
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(Eph. 5:3-5 NIV)
Resolve to develop Christ-like speech.