Have you ever been asked that question? It’s like the commercial from a while back with honest Abe (Abraham Lincoln). His wife asked him, “Does this dress make me look fat?” Some people have said, “I am just going to say what it is and let the chips fall where they may.” Words. They are so powerful that James would liken them to “bits in horses’ mouth” or “a very small rudder” on a large ship (James 3:3-4). But the bit is not the concern, nor is the rudder, but rather, the person pulling on the bit or the pilot steering the rudder. It is simple, James says, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10). If there were ever a reason for us to utilize the tool of meditation, it would be to help us in the use of our tongues.
For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
I have often quoted that text, but have never taken the time actually to consider the fuller context. Let’s take a moment and analyze what is happening. Jesus is actively involved in His earthly ministry, doing miracles, one of which was healing a “demon-possessed, blind and mute” man (Matthew 12:22). People began to question, “Could this be the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:23). Their question was asking if Jesus is to be their new ruler. The Pharisees would have nothing to do with such a notion, so they attack with words, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons” (Matthew 12:24). Ironically, they, through their accusations, were trying to expose Jesus as a fraud. But Jesus used their own words to reveal their inner motives. Although there is much to consider, we move down to vv33-37.
The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom and his tongue talks of justice.
Jesus, “knowing their thoughts” (v25), seeks to have them make up their minds. Jesus reasons, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). If the “ruler of demons” is doing the work, that would mean the miracle is evil. Wait! Jesus cast a demon out of this man. Satan would not cast out Satan (12:26). Jesus was exposing the real problem and turned the table, saying, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (12:34). This word “heart” is significant, for it speaks of the affective center of our being or as one person puts it, “our desire-decisions that establish who we are.” Isn’t that what our words often do; that is, expose who we are? We can present ourselves as one thing, but our words override it in a flash.
“For by your words, you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”
In the comfort of our salvation, it is all too easy to become complacent in our spiritual walk. We can reveal this complacency through the words we choose, words that are more critical than uplifting, and words that are more worldly than godly. Do your words blend better with the pattern of this world than with the ways of Christ? Meditating on God’s word can help prevent such things from slowly taking place in our lives. Think of it as exercising your heart to help keep it in good health. When your hearts are good, so will your words be right. So, what’s on your mind?