The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. – Luke 6:45
In our culture we’re becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea that a person is responsible and accountable for their actions, but not necessarily their words. It’s not uncommon to hear public figures use the words, “I misspoke” as a legitimate explanation for malicious or reckless comments. How interesting it would be if we thought that “I miss-acted” was a legitimate defense for offensive behavior. Instead of apologizing and admitting to ourselves and others that WE are wrong, the oft used tactic is to simply blame the words themselves – THEY slipped out wrong.
We’ve also developed ways of distancing ourselves from the accountability of judgmental words by elevating the need for them. We use phrases that reserve space for us to be cutting and curt in the name of honesty and transparency. But what we often don’t recognize is that when we’re, “just being honest” or “just telling it like it is,” we’re saying just as much about who we are as we are about what we think.
Because words are such an ordinary part of our days we may be tempted to think that they are more of a passive part of our life – the sort of things that are happening to us or in spite of our intention. But words are an active part of life. We produce them and are responsible for them and should care a great deal about their efficacy, because they’re not only the fruit of our lips, but also the window of our soul. Words aren’t just our description of what’s happening outside of us, they’re also a declaration of what’s happening on the inside of us.
Jesus taught that words come out of the good or bad stored up inside us, that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). So then words are like blinds, as we let them up they show what’s inside. We have to remember as Jesus followers that with every word we expose our faith – what we think about God and what he has actually done in our life.
It’s a fair thing for someone to think they know you because of the way you talk about others, the way you publicly engage ideas and the way you share life-stories. But practicing a rhythm of honest words isn’t about watching what you say, it’s about being accountable for what you’ve said. If you want to know how your faith is changing you, listen to the honest words that you’re producing with your mouth – they’ll tell you. And when you hear your own honest words, acknowledge where they’ve come from and be accountable for them.
This week, practice a rhythm of accountability for your honest words. At the end of each day, consider the words you’ve produced. If your words have been a blessing to others, then take time to praise and thank God for the good work he has done and is doing in you. If your words have caused harm or don’t represent the faith you want to live, then repent before God (and perhaps to others) and ask him to continue to bring change and growth in your life.