Did you know that people can hear your heart without the use of a stethoscope?
Your heart actually has an outer appendage attached to it that reveals the shape it’s in without the need for any medical testing. When you use this appendage, others can see the condition of your heart.
That appendage is called the tongue – and it can be woefully powerful when it lashes out!
Proverbs 19:21: Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
As a matter of fact, that tongue is like a spring that gushes forth everything from your heart.
James 3:11 asks: “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?”
In other words, your heart can either be a refreshing source of life to people, or it can throw someone’s spiritual metabolism into crisis. Be aware that drinking salt water can hurt the mind and the body – to the point of death! (Yes, they knew that back then too – they lived in a fishing community and not too far from the saltiest body of water on earth – the Dead Sea.) Most of us would rather try to convince ourselves that just a little bit of salt mixed in with fresh water shouldn’t do any harm, which is why James is making the point that you need to consider the source – your heart – because it can’t be both salty & fresh, both good & evil.
You see, when the salt begins to mix in, it takes the clarity away from the fresh water. For the heart, that clarity is LOVE.
I Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) begins by telling us: “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love. I am nothing.
When things get salty, fresh water has to be poured back in to dilute the danger. Love is the fresh water. Without love, the saltiness creates bitterness. That’s why we’re told to guard our hearts against a seed a bitterness. Over time, it will grow into a hateful anger. (Can’t you hear the chaotic, arrhythmic, irritating noise that anger creates – just like the noisy gongs and clanging cymbals described above? Or just like heartbeats when they’ve been disturbed from their rhythmic pulsing?)
Luke 6:45 is very clear about how the noises that we hear from people’s mouths are very distinctive extensions of their hearts:
The good person brings good things out of the good stored up in his/her heart, and the evil person brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his/her heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
So lying and deceitful and angry tongues pour forth from a heart that has been storing up evil until it finally overflows. Proverbs 10:18 talks about how the person tries to conceal these things in the heart, but how that person ultimately reveals himself/herself as a liar and a fool.
Proverbs 10:18: The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.
In other words, evil can’t stay undercover forever.
Eventually, it either seeps out or it spews like a volcano.
(i.e., Do you prefer your deadly poison administered as slow-acting venom or delivered with instantaneous violence?)
It then becomes a vicious cycle – a self-destructing whirlpool (pulling you down into its deep, dark recesses while sucking the life out of everything it can grasp). Hate and foolishness cause people to lie and give false witness against one another, all the while hardening and deteriorating the heart. As a matter of fact, the way to guard against hate and foolishness is also given to us in I John 2, where we’re reminded to keep God’s instruction (His Torah, His commandments):
Whoever says “I know God” but does not keep the Lord’s commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in that person; but whoever keeps God’s word, in that person truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in God.
God’s love is how to guard our hearts from hate and foolishness, and we exhibit our love for him by doing what he asks of us.
I Peter 2 tells us to “Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”
As we realize how good God is, that he has chosen us and we are precious to him, we will want to offer spiritual sacrifices to him – which is to love him and to love one another. True, pure, heartfelt love – not the kind mixed with the salty bitterness of self-centeredness and self-righteousness.
So if you’re worried that you still have enough saltiness of self-centeredness that you might not be able to tame your tongue for someone else’s sake, let me leave you with these final thoughts to do it for your own sake. Apparently, cleansing can work, to some extent, in reverse. By taming your tongue, you can bridle the evil upchucking with a good backwash of the mouth, gargling all the way down to the heart.
Proverbs 21:23: Whoever keeps his/her mouth and tongue, keeps himself/herself out of trouble.
Proverbs 17:28: Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise.
Hold your tongue. A word to the wise should be sufficient…
grabbing on myself, -jody