Friday, February 13, 2015

It Is What We Say, Not How We Say It

                It’s not what you say it’s how you say it. Over the years I have told this to my children more times than I can count. I will ask them a question and they will respond in a disrespectful tone, or some other tone that causes me to take a step back and remind them who they are talking to. Usually they will apologize immediately, but occasionally I will get the excuse that they didn’t mean it to sound that way, it just came out that way. Our words have a huge impact on people, and
sometimes I don’t think we take any time to think about what we say or how we say it. For years I have thought that what we say is important, but how we say it is even more important. But today, I saw this in a different light, a different perspective than I had ever seen it before. I saw that what we say speaks volumes about who we are, and speaks volumes about what is in our hearts.
             When you want to get to know someone what do you do? You talk to them, of course. You listen to them tell you about their likes, dislikes, hobbies, fears, etc. The longer you listen to them the more you get to know them. If you, however, do not take the time to really listen to them, then you will never really get to know them, and you will never really know what kind of tree they are. I mean, let’s face it, we live in a society where everyone has a “god” that they believe in. Just because someone says they are a Christian does not exactly mean that they are one. People in our society today go to church by the thousands, but not many of them are true, sincere Disciples of Christ. Some of them just go to church because that is what good people do, and the church offers great programs for their children and family. Jesus means nothing to them except on Sunday when He is supposed to. 
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                “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45
                Our words tell people a lot about who we are. It is not about how we are saying our words that reflects our hearts; it is all about what we are saying that shows the true reflection. If we want to know if someone is a sincere disciple of Christ, we need to listen to what is coming out of their mouths. James tells us that our tongues are unruly and no mere man can tame them, because they are full of evil and deadly poison. (James 3:8) He goes on to say that in one minute we bless God and curse man who was made in the image of God, all in one fluid sentence, without a moment’s pause. (James 3:9) Though man can’t tame the tongue, God can.
                Let me expound on my thoughts here for a moment. Before I gave my life to Jesus Christ I cursed terribly. Just about every other word that came from my mouth was a curse word, and not very pleasant ones either. (Although, I don’t know any curse words that are actually nice). It was nothing for me to litter my mouth with all manner of cursing, not thinking for one minute about what I was saying or who it might offend. After I gave my life to Jesus Christ and allowed His Holy Spirit to take possession of me, the cursing went away. It was the first thing that most everyone noticed of me that had changed. All that cursing was gone. God can and will help us control our tongues, if we let Him.
                I am not saying that we go around and start judging people based off their words, and that is not what Jesus is telling us to do either. What I believe He is showing us is that we need to pay attention to what is coming out of our mouths not just what is coming out of every one else’s. Jesus tells us that a good tree will bear good fruit. A heart that is focused and set on Jesus will produce good fruit from its lips. What kind of fruit will that be? The same fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists off in Galatians 5:22. The good fruit will be words of love, joy, peace, understanding or longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control, all under the power of His Holy Spirit. The words that a true disciple of Christ will be speaking will be godly fruit because they are allowing God to control their tongues. Like the saying goes, “Lord, put your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth!”  What we say is even more important to the Lord than how we say it, because let’s face it, some things we shouldn’t be saying at all!
                Jesus goes on to tell us that every tree will be known by its fruit. Let me give you another example. I used to attend a church for many years. As far as I could tell these people were my brothers and sisters in the Lord. We prayed together, ate together, served together, and loved one another. Every single one of them that called me “true friend” and that I considered “true friends” promised me that when my husband and I left fellowship that they would stay in touch and that they wanted to continue in fellowship with us. Do you know that now, after almost two years of being gone there are only a few of the women who have actually stuck to their words? And, not to mention that, but not a single one of the men whom my husband served alongside, whom my husband helped and encouraged and supported all those years, not a single one of them have ever called him in the two years that we have been gone. So, what should I discern from all of this? Maybe these people were not my “true friends” after all. Perhaps the fruit of their lips was not as fruitful as I thought it was. Because let’s face it, if we tell someone something and we are true follower of Jesus Christ than what comes out of our mouths should be true, and we should be faithful to follow it through. Even Jesus tells us this truth when He tells us that we should let our “yes be yes and our no, no. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37) These “friends” said they loved me, but where are their words of love now?
                I am not saying that we should look at these people and point the finger and talk about how bad of a Christian they are, that is not my point. My point is that what comes out of your mouth speaks about what is in your heart, it tells the truth about who you are from the inside out. Once you open your mouth there is no getting away from it- your mouth is open, you are speaking from the abundance of what you have put into your heart. If you tell someone you love them, then love them. If you tell someone yes, then be yes, if you tell them no, than be no. If your heart is full of Jesus then speak Jesus. Let not your mouths send forth fresh and bitter water. (James 3:11)
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                Our hearts are like little sponges, what we pour into them is what is going to come out of them. If I pour a pot of coffee onto a sponge, is gold going to come out of it? No, of course not! Coffee is going to come out of it, because that is what I put into it. What we put into our hearts through hearing, seeing, and the other of our five senses God has given us will determine what comes out of our mouths. James tells us that “out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.” (James 3:10) He then goes on to tell us that as Christians, “these things ought not to be so”! We bless God one minute and talk about our sister in the Lord the next minute. But that gossip was necessary so that those who are going to be praying for her will know what to pray for. (Yes, I have actually had someone tell me they weren’t gossiping they were just making sure I had the full story so I could
know how to pray.) I think God already knows, so we can spare the details.

                What we are saying tells the world what is in our hearts. If I am full of anger, then usually what proceeds from my heart are angry words meant to hurt and harm the person I am mad with. If you look at the verses that Paul gives to us in Galatians 5:19-21 about the works of the flesh, quite a few of them refer to what comes out of our mouths. What is in your heart is what is going to come out of your mouth. What you say to me speaks more to me than how you are saying it. What we speak to the world tells the world what it truly in our hearts. If Jesus is the God of your heart, then He will be the words that come from the abundance of it. If it is self, then what will come from your heart is the abundance of self. The choice is yours, what you decide to put into your heart is what you are going to pull from it. Treasures are buried, and out of the treasure of your heart, your mouth will speak. What we say speaks louder than how we are saying it. What is your heart speaking?