Summary: Jesus reminds us that the trash that comes out of our mouth actually has a hidden source.
People who move to the United States from non-English speaking countries typically have a difficult time learning our language – and understandably so. English is a weird language.
Think about the word ‘love.’ It can mean a lot of different things. I love baseball, I love broccoli, I love Brian Rice and I love my bride. But I don’t mean the same thing when I by the word love. I don’t love Brian Rice like I love my wife… And how I say it makes all the difference in the world. I can say “I love you…” and then I can say “I love you.”
Our words can mean a lot of different things. And it can get pretty confusing. For instance, you drive on a parkway, but you park in your driveway. There’s no ‘egg’ in eggplant and no ham in hamburger. Quicksand is actually slow. Boxing rings are actually square. You recite a play, but you play at a recital. Your nose runs, but your feet smell. Who did this to us?
Why is the word abbreviated so long? Why do they call it a building, if it’s already built? Why isn’t the word phonetic spelled like it sounds? Why do doctors cost so much if they’re just practicing? And who decided to name the place where the airplane takes terminal?
English muffins aren’t from England, French fries don’t come from France and the Casear salad was invented in Mexico. A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose, 2 meese? One index, two indices? Does that mean the plural of “to choose” is “to cheese”? The past tense of teach is taught. So when done this morning, I will have praught!
Our language is sloppy. And not just in its word forms – but in its delivery as well. We tend to say things we don’t mean – or say things without even thinking about it. Sometimes I think we’ve decided the only way to be funny it to put people down.
And the truth is, our words aren’t just sloppy, they’re dangerous. I love this quote I read, “Lord make my words soft and tender for tomorrow I may have to eat them.” Often our words aren’t tender and soften. We, at times, are given to harsh, hateful words, only to try to cover them up with “I was only joking,” or “that’s just how I feel…”
Rumors, half-truths, grumbling, sarcastic remarks, things said in the heat of anger or in throes of the moment – all of these are ‘burning matches’ tossed to the ground with a potential for burning down acres of office morale, personal friendships, family peace, and church unity.
As one person once said, “I always knew that when I would look back on my tears it would make me laugh. What I never knew is that looking back on my laughter could someday make me cry.”
Remember this line from childhood: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words may shatter my soul. Our words can wound and maim the closest companions of our lives. With our words we label, we limit, we assault, we undermine and humiliate, sometimes without even knowing it – and sometimes quite intentionally. There’s a lot of trash that comes out of our mouths.
There is a great deal of trash that comes out of our mouths:
Deceit - lying; intentionally misleading or misinforming.
Gossip – talking about someone or someone else’s life without their approval or presence.
Impurity – speech, comments, jokes, words from the carnal or sinful nature.
Self-promotion - arrogance, boasting, condescension, pride.
Slander - defaming/attacking identity, character or standing.
Prejudice - bias based on culture, color or history.
Griping - constant/harsh criticism; complaints; grumbling
This garbage stinks and fouls our relationships, our reputation and ability to minister and to love. The trash out of our mouths keeps us from trusting each other, keeps us from being open about struggles and hurts – it robs us of relationships we are supposed to have. It gets in the way of God’s love and deprives us of God’s power.
And often someone will stand up and tell us that saying these harmful, hurtful words is wrong. And that we must change the trash that comes out of our mouths. And I agree. But I think there’s a far more important issue here. The issue is where do these words come from? I submit to you that the trash that comes from our mouths is a symptom of an even greater problem. And Jesus agrees with me, or more correctly, I agree with him.