Your speech can expose the real you
Published 5:01 pm Friday, May 19, 2017
As Gale and I relaxed and enjoyed some good greasy food at a fast food place, my phone rang. Wondering if we would have to cut short our time together, I reluctantly looked at the caller ID—it was one of our children. Thankfully she did not bring really bad news, but it was not all good either; she reported to me that her washing machine was overflowing and the floor was being flooded. There was no need to bypass my anticipated ice cream dipped in chocolate since her wash room is in a room detached from the main house. I gave a few instructions and the water stopped overflowing; even though the bigger problem was not yet solved it could wait until I got there to check it out more thoroughly.
What was overflowing out of that crippled machine? Pure clear water. Why? Because that was what it was filled with and it became overfilled with the abundance of clear water to the extent that it started to spill out on the surrounding area. That was an undesirable overflow, but at least it was spreading something good and harmless.
Thinking of that situation brings to mind something that Christ said during His time on earth: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up on his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45, New International Version). Since they overflow from our inner abundance, our words can expose a great deal about us. If we would all pause and listen to what we say and what we like to talk about it would bring us face-to-face with what is important to us. We might be pleased with the results, or we might be put to shame. Nevertheless, listening to our own words is a good way to evaluate our hearts.
I worked in municipal wastewater treatment for many years. Our objective was to take used, contaminated water and biologically treat it so that it could be safely released back into the environment. In the process of that treatment, though, if a tank of wastewater overflowed before being effectively treated it was potentially dangerous to the environment and to people and had to be quickly contained. If was impossible for a tank filled with such material to overflow with pure drinking water because that was not what was on the inside. In like manner, if our hearts are filled with corruption our mouths will begin to reveal the abundance of it through our words.
The remedy to this dilemma of the heart is for us to invite our Lord to fill us daily with His presence and His goodness so that we allow words of purity and grace to flow from our lips. We are instructed with these words from James 1:19-20: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
How many times have you found yourself reversing what James 1:19 says by being quick to speak without first listening? That can surely produce a seedbed where attitudes and actions that do not please God grow and corrupt our hearts. But as we work hard to keep our hearts full of desires that please God we will find ourselves speaking words that honor God and encourage people. Indeed, our speech can really reveal who we are.