A Post About Words

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ann Voskamp and Holley Gerth's open invitation to write "a post about words," motivated me last week. I've had some thoughts swirling around in my head. I tried to catch them all. Here they are.

Thanks to this CD, I've had this verse running through my head lately:

Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34

I took it as a hint, and investigated further. I discovered that in this passage, Jesus is kind of going off on the Pharisees. (I don't know if I can or should say that Jesus was going off, but that is what it feels like.) The Pharisees had just scoffed at Jesus' miracle of healing a demon-possessed man, and said that he only did it through Beelzebub, the prince of demons. As in, you're nothing special, you are not God. Verse 25 says that "Jesus knew their thoughts," and then he went on to say:

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
Matthew 12:34-37

I don't know about you, but that makes me shudder.

Every careless word I've spoken?


I would like to think that Jesus was only talking to the "brood of vipers" Pharisees there, but I cannot slink away that easily. Careless words of my own come to mind. I cannot account for how I am short with my children. I cannot account for my "venting" session gone too far. I cannot account for how I indulged in gossip or how I failed to share a kind word.

My excuses are many. I get caught off guard! I get caught up in the moment, and oops! There I go snapping at my family. Oops! There I go with a catty comment. Oops! There I go, forgetting about others. My words fail.

And maybe it is because, Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

What is in my heart, ready to spill when I trip over life? What is there, escaping, when the safety valve bursts?

I would like to think that my heart is full of love. But could there also be anger or resentment because I had to pick up the toys? Frustration because I am behind on work and the laundry? Am I annoyed by the clerk who wouldn't smile? Am I storing up envy, thinking if only, or I wish I could?

Those are hard questions. Some I don't like to answer. And then I am reminded:

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord. Psalm 139:3-4

There is no pretense with God. He knows the contents of my heart, and what is about to slosh out. It is good for me to be more self aware, but the only one who can really change it, is Him.

Create in me a pure heart, O God. And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

So, I lay it all out there. I confess, I pray, and I write. Words heal words. I work on this little blog, and through all the reading, writing, thinking, discussing, and changing that goes along with it, I increase my joy. My heart feels more content and happy. There is peace, and comfort, and grace, and yes, more love.

Still, there will be messy spills. There will be outbursts and regret. There will be days when I forget that I wrote any of this. But how good to know that if I work on the heart, the careless, cannot-account-for-them words, may be fewer and farther between. The overflow, when it happens, may be something I can live with. That is progress.

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9 Responses to “A Post About Words”

  1. Oh, words. I know. I know. I know.

    There is SO much weight attached to them - I'm always astounded by how often I forget this until I use them carelessly and see their disastrous effect.

    I love Psalm 139 - LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

    Good food for thought, Courtney. Thank you!

  2. This is such a great post. I love the verses you chose to include -- they illustrate your point perfectly.

    I went to bed last night thinking about this same verse (I just recently read it in my One Year Bible). I struggle with many of the things you listed here, but I can feel Him kneading out some of that anger and resentment. I feel Him fashioning my heart into a new shape, one that can pour out love more readily.

  3. Beautiful. I am nodding in agreement with all of this saying "me too."

  4. Right now I'm sitting in "messy spills". I've been following along with Holley too.

  5. Are you sure you did not stop by my little room and picked up my journal? :)

    It seems that we struggle with the same things...what comes out of our mouths. So hard to reign this muscle in and to do the bidding of the Father! But I know that it can be done...M.

  6. Love "the look" of your blog. Loved this post. Well, maybe loved is not the appropriate word, as it stung a little. Well-said. I could relate, and yes "there will be messy spills...outbursts and regret." Oh, how I wish there would not be. But only in heaven will that happen. Until then, I ask forgiveness, and put away wrath, malice, anger, and...bitterness, and, and, and, Trust Him to finish the work He has begun in me. I, too, am a work in progress.
    Thanks for sharing.
    I found through Ann's post on Heart to Heart with Holley.
    Wendy Gunn
    Faith's Firm Foundation

  7. I just wrote down the Psalm scriptures to focus on today. I like the way you connect the Matthew "overflow of the heart" scripture to the Psalm 139 truth that God knows our words before they're even on our tongue. Thanks for sharing such wonderful and important thoughts!

  8. What we put *into* our hearts certainly impacts what overflows out of them. Thank you for tucking some scripture into mine today on a topic that hits very close to home.

  9. What we put *into* our hearts certainly impacts what overflows out of them. Thank you for tucking some scripture into mine today on a topic that hits very close to home.