“The tree is known by its fruit. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Matthew 12:33-36
I have caught myself saying things I don’t want to say, in tone foreign to my desire–expressing impatience, frustration, even unkind words to counter another’s ideas or suggestions. It is true that my choice of words and my tone of voice are reflective of what is in my heart: I cannot harbor stubbornness, selfish intent, pride at my opinions and knowledge of what’s best, or superiority, and think that my ‘output’ will be clean, gracious, and life-giving.
Jesus used the word “careless,” indicating the necessity of taking care of what I am allowing to take root, to grow (seen or unseen), to fester in my heart. Sometimes I let slip in a seemingly innocent- or justifiable- niggle of thought, and it takes off, popping up and out before I even recognize it is there. Did I even give it oxygen? I must be vigilant, and diligent, to tend my heart if I expect my words to bring “encouragement, upbuilding, and consolation.” How can I expect to speak sound words, good news of happiness, peace and salvation, if I am not filled with words of life and light and truth? (1 Corinthians 14:3; 2 Timothy 1:13; Isaiah 52:7)
“No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” James 3:8-12
O God, purify me through and through! Help me to guard my heart; it is the wellspring of my life. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight. (Proverbs 4:32; Psalm 19:14)