Matthew 12:33, 34 Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit 34…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
The Nature Of Our Words
God has given human beings the honour and privilege of using language. Words enable us to communicate with one another, share ideas, convey emotions, thoughts, and feelings, and sing and worship. Words allow us to enter into the power of agreement. Most importantly, the spiritual power of our words allows us to connect with the unseen realm.
Scripture tells us that the power of life and death is in the tongue. This power is a privilege that has been given to us from God. It is real power. When we speak, we are not simply conveying information; what we say is dynamically connected to the spiritual realm.
21 Life and death are in the power of the tongue… (Proverbs 18:21)
One of the most powerful things we can do as humans is declare the truth of God through worship, thanksgiving, and declaration (James 3:9). Therefore, we must care about our speech. We want to agree with the truth of God, not just internally, but externally through our speech. From our speech flows life (or death).
38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
9 With [the tongue] we bless our God and Father… (James 3:9)
No one is able to bring his or her speech into submission apart from the Holy Spirit. It is easier to tame a wild animal than to control the tongue (James 3:7, 8).
8…no man can tame the tongue [speech]. It is an unruly evil, fully of deadly poison. (James 3:8)
2 If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man… (James 3:2)
However, when the believer embraces the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit our words can become seasoned and full of truth. This is not something that happens in a moment, but something we work toward as we grow in maturity.
A Reflection Of The Heart
Words reflect the heart. We can evaluate the quality of our heart by examining our speech. If our words are dark, negative, or sinful, what does that tell us about our heart?
34 for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34)
The abundance of the heart is the overflow. We only get out of our heart what has been put into it. For example, a glass will be filled with whatever you put into it. You cannot draw sewage from a glass of pure water, and you cannot draw pure water from a glass of sewage.
What we value internally comes out externally through our words. Jesus called this the “good treasure” or the “evil treasure.” What we value most cannot remain hidden; it will be revealed in our speech.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. (Matthew 12:35)
As we fill our minds with prayer and the Word, we will find that it will overflow in our speech. The more we give ourselves to the truth, the more our words agree with the heart of God.
1 My heart is overflowing with a good theme…my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. (Psalm 45:1)
23 he who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:23)
The Direction of The Heart
Our words show us the direction we are pointing. If our words are wholesome, we are pointed toward what is good; if our words are defiled and corrupt, we are pointed toward evil.
Our speech is like a bit in the mouth of a horse. The horse is subject to the bit. It may want to steer in another direction, but it can only travel in the direction that its mouth is pointed. Where our speech goes, we will go.
3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. (James 3:3)
Our speech is like the rudder of a great ship. The pilot of a great ship turns it with relatively little effort. Likewise, with a little effort we can change the direction of a conversation, our emotions, or a situation.
4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. (James 3:4)
Our speech is like fire. It only takes a spark to light a fire. With our words we can kindle great trouble, or great zeal for Jesus.
5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. 6 See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire… (James 3:5, 6)
29 Do not let any unwholesome [corrupt] talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
Filthy language – curse words (or their “slang” terms); taking the Lord’s name in vain, blasphemy, coarse language or terms.
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger…blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. (Colossians 3:8)
Swearing, cursing (cussing), or using their slang terms are commonplace in society. Many do not consider it to be wrong or sinful. It is not uncommon to hear swearing on TV, in movies or songs, or among friends and acquaintances. Swearing often amuses us when we hear it; this should not be so!
Jesus said that profane speech was from the “evil one” (Matthew 5:37). We are exhorted to put off defiled speech. A defiled heart cannot receive at the depth that a clean bright heart can.
1 therefore be imitators of God…and walk in love… 3[nor let] filthiness or foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:1-3)
Foolish talking – speech that doesn’t edify the hearer or our own spirit.
Our foolish words many times spill over to those in authority. Our words become harsh, demanding, or critical of those leading us. Examples of this would be the way we speak to those in leadership over us or the way we criticize governmental officials.
Complaining: complaining conveys the false idea that nothing can change, or that our situation is hopeless. Complaining is the overflow of unbelief. The Lord dealt extensively with Israel on the issue of complaining (1 Cor. 10:10-11).
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing… (Philippians 2:14)
Gossip: speaking about someone behind his or her back. Slander: speaking lies about someone behind their back. These defile our spirit.
Coarse jesting – crude joking includes joking that becomes perverse (sexual/immoral), centred on insensitive humour (violent, sexist, racist, demeaning), or is focused on crude bathroom humour.
10 Hear and understand…11 Not what [food] goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. (Matthew 15:10-11)
If we frequently use a term and question whether it’s right or wrong, we should throw it out! Why risk having a damaged heart and defiled spirit for the sake of a slang term?
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36)
An idle word is when our speech becomes lazy, careless, or meaningless (unprofitable). The Lord doesn’t simply draw the line at sinful words, but meaningless words. He invites us to fight for the “grey areas” related to our speech and ask the Holy Spirit for help. Believers are told that we will have a conversation with Jesus about lazy (or meaningless) words that we’ve spoken (Matthew 11:36).
Lazy words can sneak up on us when we’re tired, frustrated, or angry. For many, idle words happen in the context of conversation with friends or over social media. We can say things without thinking through the consequences of how others may interpret what we’re saying.
The grey areas of our lives are the battleground for wholehearted love. I don’t want to waste energy on giving excuses for the grey areas of my speech.
Build Up and Benefit
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians. 4:29)
13 You are the salt of the earth…14 You are the light of the world…16 let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-14, 16)
Believers are exhorted to use words to build up those who are hearing. Your words are powerful! Kindle fire for Jesus!
11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life. (Proverbs 10:11)
When we cross the line on these areas, we repent to the Lord. We may need to repent to others who have overheard what we are saying.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put perverse lips far from you. (Proverbs 4:24)
We use words to magnify the Lord, to sing praise to Him, to give Him thanksgiving, to worship Him in truth. We don’t want bitter and fresh water to come out of our mouths (James 3:10-12).
When we use our words in agreement with truth, it causes our spirits to become bright and radiant! It is far easier to connect with the Lord in prayer and His Word when our words are clean! The end goal is to have a free and joyful heart that enjoys God and builds up others.
Author Isaac Bennet IHOP