“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Matthew 12:34b, NKJV*
Other translations essentially say, “what’s in the heart is what comes out.” I like the imagery of abundance here, because we have good and bad and all manner of in-between things in our hearts.
As Christians, we work on guarding what comes out of our mouths. We’ve read the passages in James about controlling our tongues, and we understand the danger of harsh or inappropriate words.
Choosing our words with care isn’t about hypocrisy or pretending to be perfect. We’re saved, but we’re still being saved. Still in the process of being cleaned up. It’s a lifetime job that only God would ever dream of tackling.
If the pressure’s on, or if we’re tired or distracted, sometimes we slip. When we do, it reveals what’s inside.
- Nothing ever goes my way.
- Why should anything good happen, anyway?
- I knew it was too good to be true.
- I should have known it wouldn’t work out.
Ever said—or thought—anything like that? I have, and I’m learning that it reveals things I don’t want in my heart: doubt, lack of faith, negativity, discontent, a complaining attitude… and at the very root, a suspicion that God isn’t such a good Shepherd after all.
Nothing I’d espouse under ordinary circumstances, but when push comes to shove, the thoughts are there. Clamping my lips shut saves others from hearing it, but Jesus is right. It’s a heart matter.
We don’t have to believe the lies, the fear and the negatives. We can choose to believe God’s promises and rely on His love. But it takes work. It takes catching these unwanted thoughts and replacing them with truth. In New Testament language, it takes putting on the armour of God: especially the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit and belt of truth to hold the breastplate in place.
And it takes speaking God’s truth aloud to replace the negatives we’ve whispered so long.
God our loving Father, You see our hearts and yet You work to save us. We rely on Your promise to forgive us when we confess, and to make a way for us to escape temptation’s power. Grant us faith to truly rely on You, to fully believe Your love and Your care, to live in such a way that others will see we do indeed have a Good Shepherd.