Out of the heart …. the mouth speaks


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What kind of claim does Christ make on our speech? Should being a Christian affect the way you talk? How important are words? Do they matter to God? What does our way of speaking say about us?

Let me clarify that I am not concerned with ways of talking related to geography. When your with people from New Jersey or New York or my home town of Philadelphia, you can tell by their accent. The same is true regarding ethnicity. My wonderful Italian friends from South Philadelphia had a specific way of talking that distinguished them.  My English friends speak with a refinement unlike my friends from Jersey. I don’t believe that being a Christian requires uniformity of style and tone.

But there are some very clear areas where our faith forbids and requires certain ways of speaking.

 

Forbidden speech:

  1. Lying (Ephesians 4:25; I Peter 3:10; Psalm 34:13)
  2. Slander (Titus 3:2; James 4:11)
  3. Gossip: (Proverbs 6:16-19; 11:13; 16:28)
  4. Complaining: (Philippians 2:14; Jude 16)
  5. Vengeful words (I Peter 2:23; Romans 12:17-19)
  6. Malicious or hurtful words (Ephesians 4:31-32)
  7. Angry words (Ephesians 4:31-32)
  8. Hasty words (James 1:19; Ecclesiastes 3:7)
  9. Flattery (Proverbs 24:26-28; 29:5; Romans 16:18)
  10. Cursing people (James 3:7-10)
  11. Boasting (I Corinthians 13:4-8)
  12. Blasphemy (Matthew 12:31)

Required speech:

    • Praise for God (Hebrews 13:15)
    • Affirmation of others (I Peter 2:13-14)

E429: “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29, New Living Translation)

Jesus spoke pointedly about the importance of our words. He taught that our words reveal our hearts and have transcendent significance — reaching to the Day of Judgment.

“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. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? 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 things 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 (vain, thoughtless, useless; a word that accomplishes no good. In context: “wicked, injurious, false, malicious). For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37)

Words of wisdom from James:

James 1:27 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

James 3:2-6 “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 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. 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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire.”

Watch that tone of voice:

    • Condescending
    • Bossy
    • Angry
    • Snobby
    • Frustrated
    • Impatient
    • Defensive
    • Moody
    • Distant
    • Disrespectful
    • Whining
    •  Dark
Let love win:  “Let all that you do be done in love” (I Corinthians 16:14).

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Steve Cornell

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