Jesus said, “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean…But things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’” (Matthew 15:11,18 NIV).
Friend to Friend
While it is the Holy Spirit that gives us the power to change the words we speak, the desire to change begins in the heart. The Bible says:
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will condemned” (Matthew 12:33-37).
The word heart that is used in this passage is the Greek word kardia. It is not referring to the blood pumping muscle in the chest cavity, but to our thoughts, motives, feelings, our will, and our character. The kardia is the seat of our emotions and represents the inner person. The words that escape our lips reveal the condition of the inner man.
Remember the children’s song:
I’m a little teapot short and stout,
Here is my handle, here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up hear me shout,
Just tip me over and pour me out.
Well I don’t know about you, but when I get all steamed up, what comes out of my mouth isn’t always a cup of tea! It is in those unguarded moments of frustration, anger, or pain that our mouths tend to spew out what is really inside. Jesus said, “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean…But things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’” (Matthew 15:11,18). Jesus continually pointed out the condition of the Pharisees’ hearts. They clung to outward religious practices. But God desired their hearts, which were hardened and cold.
The book of Proverbs has much to say about how the condition of our heart affects what we say.
- Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
- The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. (Proverbs 10:8)
- A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly. Proverbs 12:23)
- An anxious heart weights a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25)
- The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. (Proverbs 15:14)
- The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. (Proverbs 15:28 TNIV)
- A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. (Proverbs 15:30)
- The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:21)
- The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:23 TNIV)
- One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend. (Proverbs 22:11 TNIV)
- Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. (Proverbs 26:23)
- Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. (Proverbs 26:24, 25 TNIV)
- As the water reflects a face, so one’s life reflects the heart. (Often that reflection is through spoken words) (Proverbs 27:18 TNIV)
So, how’s your heart? The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.
Dear LORD, Examine my heart today and reveal to me any areas of my life that I need to change. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and restore a right spirit within me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Turn to Psalm 51 and make that your prayer today.
Today’s devotion is taken from Sharon’s book In this book, you can explore the power you possess, the people you impact, the potential for change, and the profound possibilities. As you harness this mighty force, you will begin to use words to speak life to those around you. Get one for yourself, or gather a group of girlfriends to learn and grow together.