January 27, 2016
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
Words reveal much more than just what they mean. The tone, the direction (to whom one speaks), and their content tell us much about the person speaking them. As to our tone, for example, anger and impatience are revealed by scornful words spoken with a high degree of frustration. It’s not hard to tell, most of the time, what emotions are erupting by the words chosen and how they are spoken. The tone of our words reveals, in real time, our emotional state.
Less obvious is how the direction and content of words reveals ongoing character. How people talk about others in their absence is how they will talk about you in your absence. Those of good character will be charitable in their assessment of others when they are not there. Any complaints they have toward others, they will speak directly to them. However, less charitable people will talk about others “behind their back.” It is best not even to listen to them, for if they speak negatively about others to you, then they will speak negatively about you to others.
People also reveal their character simply in what they talk about. If they are the only subject of their monologue, they reveal an insecure or narcissistic person. Whatever they talk about most of the time, whether trivial or monumental, reveals what they think about most of the time. Do their words reveal disturbing priorities, unfair and uninformed biases, or lack of trust in God or in the good of other people? You can tell enough about them if you listen enough to them.
It is good to ask yourself, “What do I reveal about my character by what I say, to whom I say it, how I say it?” An honest answer to that question may reveal a heart that is not pleasing to God or to others. We all fail, at times, to speak in ways that edify others and glorify God. But thanks be to God, in Christ, he renews us with grace. Remember His words:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 and Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10.
If our hearts are clean, our words will be also.
Pastor Tom Konz