Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"What's Down in the Well Comes Up in the Bucket"

One of my biggest challenges is my tongue.
James called it "a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (3:8), and I know for a fact that unless controlled, my tongue can completely destroy a person and can even lead to my own spiritual destruction. Satan uses our tongues to divide us, to spread gossip and lies, to put people down, and, ultimately, to separate us from God. He knows that we can never fully control our tongues (James 3:8) and yet we must try.

To be perfectly honest, I have to watch every. single. word. that comes out of my mouth. Sometimes there's just no filter, and what I say hurts, offends, discourages, and humiliates. Immediately after the words leave my tongue I wish I could take them back, but the damage is done: some innocent individual is hurt, and I can only apologize. Apologies cannot, however, take the hurt away. And that is because "what's down in the well comes up in the bucket." What is in our hearts is what comes out of our mouths. Jesus said this better in Matthew 12:34 when speaking to the Pharisees, who were trying to accuse Him of getting His power from Satan, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." The Pharisees pretended to be righteous, but Jesus called them "whitewashed tombs" because inside, their hearts were full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

The problem with my tongue is not one that I can fix simply by watching what I say. It requires a change of heart, a thorough cleansing by the Holy Spirit. If I truly want kind, edifying and encouraging words to come out of my mouth, my heart has to be filled with kind, edifying and encouraging thoughts. All criticisms, jealousies, and wicked thoughts must be gone.

Ephesians 4:29 is one of my favorite verses in all scripture because it is a constant reminder to check what I'm saying before I say it: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." That means, don't offer unwanted parenting advice. Compliment rather than criticize. Encourage my children with kind words. Stop nagging at my husband. Speak the truth in love.

Does what I say serve to encourage or discourage, build up or break down, help or hurt, beautify or make ugly? Does what I say reveal something about my heart that needs to change? Could Jesus compare me to a "white-washed tomb"? What would come up in the bucket from my well?

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