Summary: What comes out of our mouth comes from the heart
Straight from the Heart
(Third in a series)
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
We sure talk about that a lot around here, don’t we? When we are careful to speak words to impress others; to teach from a prepared lesson; or offer a formal defense, we are careful to think about what we are saying. In other words, we speak with an intellectual choice of words as opposed to our natural speech. When we do that, we speak from the mind and not from the heart.
When we speak from our heart, it reveals our true being – our true self. If we are hard-hearted, full of anger and resentment our natural conversations from the heart are strongly influenced. If we are content and deeply care about others, truth and integrity, that is quickly revealed when we speak from the heart.
Have you unleashed an angry tirade lately? Have you spoken harshly, exaggerated truth, used unclean language, told out and out lies, etc.? If so, do you deep down inside wish that you hadn’t done so?
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Of course, that just isn’t so, is it? Actually, psychological pain is much more severe and lasting than physical pain. More people than we might think harbor scars from psychological abuse as children. Those scars are on their hearts and they influence the lives and the speech of the abused.
James begins this reading by reminding us that we are not perfect and we all do stumble, unless of course we are perfect and able to bridle the whole body. Bridle? Bridle the whole body! To bridle a horse means to put a little steel bar in his mouth between the jaws and connect it to the reins. When the reins are pulled hard enough, the horse slows or halts. When pulled to one side or the other, the horse turns in that direction. In other words, the bridle controls the horse’s movements.
Now I want you to think about this: The horse does not bridle itself! Neither can we bridle ourselves and especially the tongue. As James says in verse two, if we could bridle the tongue, we would be perfect. The words that come naturally out of our mouths, flow from our inner being. So just how are we to bridle our tongue. We can’t, because we are not perfect. What we can do is turn to the one who is perfect – GOD!
Since God is the only One who is perfect, God is the only One who can bridle or tame the tongue. James uses the bridle and bit as a teaching point. He also uses the rudder of a ship. The rudder – a small flat piece of metal located at the stern of the ship is turned left or right by the pilot of the ship at the helm or steering wheel. The rudder then resists the flow of current on one side and lessens it on the other. Thus, the ship turns toward the side where the resistance is greater, being pushed by the stronger current on the other side.
I think we have established that the tongue has the ability to influence the direction of others. Teachers influence the direction of the lives of their students. Military leaders influence the direction of the lives of soldiers. Judges influence the direction of lives of litigants.
However, we are incapable of controlling, taming, or maintaining the direction of our own tongues. So, what are we to do?
Give it to God. Ask God to be the helmsman of the rudder of your life. Hand the reins over to God. Ask God to take the reins and direct your tongue.
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3
I said give it to God, that is not the same thing as practicing some religious ritual or expecting an inward change from an outward appearance.
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” James 1:26
When we submit to God, He will tame the tongue. Submission to God must be one hundred percent. We get right back to that basic principle: God will not share in the same heart with any evil or darkness. We cannot straddle the fence. It is all or nothing. If we believe that we have given control over to God and are not realizing any changes, we must then reassess the extent of our submission. The weakness and disparities lie on our shoulders not HIS. Always remember our relationship with God is not a mental exercise it is a rendering of the heart.
Let us pray.
[Much of this message was derived from a study of The Book of James, Rose Publishing 2018.]