HELP! I CAN’T GET CONTROL OVER MY TONGUE by A. Craig Troxel for Core Christianity
The Words of Our Heart
How many of our regrets are the words that slipped from our mouths: mounting anger that ruptured into a torrent of destructive ugliness, icy sarcasm that cut deeply into raw and unappreciated sensitivities, relentless criticizing that crushed the other until the tears flowed? Only afterward did we truly appreciate the injury and pain of our own doing. And looking back, we cringe as we hear the echo of our voice saying what should not have been said; or more accurately, what should not have been thought.
There is an intimate path between our words and our heart. Christ said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). Our speech simply puts on display what is produced in the heart—whether good or evil (Luke 6:45). If others want to know the state of our hearts, then they only need to listen to us talk. We are telling them. In fact, we are telling them more than we probably mean to be telling them. Our anxiety, hatred, fear, pride, selfishness, hypocrisy, lust, and deceitfulness are not born in our mouths; they are conceived in our hearts. Our words simply give these sins a public hearing—shaping them with meaning and energizing them with tone. If our hearts are coddling worldliness and immorality, or are obsessed with fear and insecurity, or are overflowing with arrogance or selfishness, it will come out in our speech. You really can tell someone’s religion by their speech (James 1:26). Words reflect the state of our heart; and our heart—more than anything else—reflects the state of our walk with God.
The Heart of Our Words
Our Lord’s teaching about the connection between our words and our heart helps us appreciate that to progress in verbal holiness we must first appreciate this fact: a lack of self-control with our words reflects a lack of self-control in our hearts.