Summary: Second in a series on the use and abuse of the tongue.
On Saturday, June 22, 2002, the scheduled game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field was cancelled because of an eerie discovery. The Card’s ace pitcher was found dead in a Chicago hotel room. Thirty-three-year-old Darryl Kile, who wore num¬ber 57, had been a major league pitching sensation for 12 years and had appeared in three All-Star games.
At a recent team physical, the 6-foot 5-inch athlete seemed in excellent health. When the medical examiners conducted an autopsy later that day, they discovered that Kile had died from a massive heart attack. His main coronary artery was 90 percent blocked. Darryl Kile appeared to be healthy, but his heart was diseased.
Things are not always what they appear to be on the surface. This is the point Jesus was making on this occasion when the Pharisees came to Him with a question, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!" (v. 2).
Their concern was not sanitation, but tradition. Their approach to things was to focus on outward modifications, not inner transformation. They felt that God was impressed by their outward expressions of piety, but Jesus made it clear that God was more concerned with the heart.
"Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
Jesus pointed out the failure of the Pharisee’s approach by citing an example of their hypocrisy (vs. 3-9). The Pharisees had made a secondary duty the excuse for denying a primary one. By dedicating their property to the temple, they allowed themselves to deny giving any aid or support to their parents, thus thwarting completely God’s Word concerning honoring their father and mother. The Pharisees called this "Corban" (a gift devoted to God). All their emphasis on outward tradition did not make a single difference on what God is concerned with—inner transformation (vs. 8-9)!
You see, hypocrisy is pretending to be something I am not. This is something that God detests. Therefore, it something that we should also detest! The desire of every Christian should be consistency - what you see on the outside is a true reflection of what is on the inside.
Yes, we want our outward life to honor God. But the way to achieve this is not by means of external modification, but by means of internal transformation. Jesus made this clear on another occasion when speaking to the Pharisees, when He said:
"How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean, too. " - Matthew 23:25-26 (NLT)
All this brings us to a consideration of what our Lord says about our mouths (v. 18). Jesus tells us that if we are going to experience internal transformation, we need to carefully note how we use our tongue!
"Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." - Matthew 12:34 (NIV)
Just as a physician examines your tongue in the effort to diagnose your physical health, Jesus says we should examine the use of our tongue in order to diagnose our spiritual health. Any inappropriate use of the tongue - lying, gossip, slander, criticism, cursing, cussing, etc., is an indication of how our heart needs to be made more holy or more whole.
Life consists of the actions we take or the reactions we make. How we express ourselves and/or explain ourselves in the midst of our actions and reactions reveals the condition of our hearts. This is the point Jesus is making in verse 19. Every action or reaction has its beginning in the heart. Every act was first an attitude. This was the point Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount:
"You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, "Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder." - Matthew 5:21-22 (The Message)
"You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who so much as looks at a woman with evil desire for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Matthew 5:27-28 (Amplified)
So let’s think about how we express ourselves or explain ourselves in actions and reactions, see what that might say about the condition of our hearts, and then talk about what we can do to see true internal transfor¬mation take place in our lives.
1. The Actions We Take.
How would you explain the actions you take in life? What you have to say for yourself reveals much about the condition of your heart.