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A Pure Heart

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A Pure Heart

For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Matthew 12:34b (NASB)

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (ESV)

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (GNT)

For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. (HCSB)

It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. (The Message)

The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart. (NCV)

For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. (NLT)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue…

Proverbs 18:21a

What you say can preserve life or destroy it… (GNT)

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (The Message)

Purpose:  To lay the foundation for 2007’s (through the retreat) focus on how we use our tongues, with the final result that our speech becomes more honoring to God.

Crux:  Our speech can only please God when what is in our hearts pleases God.

Problem:  Our hearts are not right.

This year, from now through our retreat in September, our focus will be on our speech.  But your program says our theme is “A Pure Heart.”  How does that work?  Matthew 12:34 says that “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  Proverbs 18:21 follows that up by saying that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

When I said that I’m a work in progress, I meant two things by that.  First, God is working on me to sanctify me and make me like Christ, just as He wants to do the same with all of His daughters.  That means I’m not there yet.  I will make mistakes.  I’m not perfect, and will never try to represent myself as such – to do so would be to lie to you, to myself, and worse, to God.  So I just want to lay this out right now:  Whatever I say to you, I am first applying it to my own life.  I may teach you the Word, but the Spirit is first teaching me.  We’ll work on these things together.

But the fact that I’m a work in progress also means something else.  I come to you with baggage.  We are all human, and we all have memories, and life is not perfect, so that means that we all bring hurts – both received and given – and sin to the table when we join it.  Someone once said that if you’re looking for the perfect church, and think you’ve found the perfect church, its perfection will be ruined the instant you walk in the door.  Funny, but true.  Matt and I are both honored to be part of Martinsburg Church.  If you’ll excuse the expression, we are so proud of who you have become.  There are a lot of really great things happening here, and the potential is there for so much more.  We are so excited to be a part of building God’s kingdom here with you.  But that said, Martinsburg Church is not a perfect church, by any stretch of the imagination.  And if it was before, its perfection was ruined the instant I walked in the door.  I may be a “Pastor’s Wife,” but I want you to know that I view that totally as an act of God’s grace.  I don’t consider it a position of special privilege, or that I have a higher measure of wisdom or Godliness that God just had to choose me.  It just happens to be the role that I fill here.  I am married to the pastor.  I support him as he leads this congregation, and I am part of this congregation, just as any of the rest of you are.

But back to the baggage, because that’s the fun part.  Proverbs 11:11 says that a city is torn down by the mouth of the wicked.  The church we came from was absolutely torn apart by slander and gossip.  Our ministry ended there because of the power of words.  So this issue is near and dear to my heart, not out of a desire for revenge, but out of a desire to save other church families from what that church body went through.  Out of a desire to truly help others to grow in Christlikeness so that a watching world will have cause to glorify God, not defame Him because of the actions of those who call themselves His children.  But you know, that church wasn’t really all that unusual.  Some of the same issues exist here.  Feelings have been hurt, friendships damaged, reputations ground into the dust because of how people talk.  When I say that, I’m not judging anyone in particular.  I’m just expressing the reality, that we are just like any other church, in that we none of us guard our hearts and tongues as well as we should.  James 3:2 says that if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is perfect.  We’re none of us succeeding in this area as we should. 

But how do we fix that?  Listen to the words of Solomon in Proverbs chapter 4:

My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.   Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.  For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body.  Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.  Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you.  Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.  Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established.  Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. (20-27, NASB)

Did you catch the progression there? 

1.  hear and obey the Word

2.  watch over our hearts.  Why?  Because of what comes next –

3.  what happens in our hearts shows up in our words and actions.

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. (GNT)

Solomon wisest ever – 18.21.  What you say can preserve life or destroy it… (GNT)  Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (The Message)

HeartàMouth link in Scripture

Psalm 51:10, 13:  Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me…then I will teach transgressors Your ways…

Prov. 10:20:  The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, the heart of the wicked is worth little.

Prov. 12:19-20:  Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.

Prov. 15:26:  Evil plans are an abomination to the Lord, but pleasant words are pure.

Matthew 12:34:  How can you, being evil, speak what is good?  For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Matt. 15:18:  The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.

Luke 6:45:  The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (ESV)

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (GNT)

For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. (HCSB)

It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. (The Message)

The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart. (NCV)

For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. (NLT)

So it’s established:  When we have speech problems, it’s because we have heart problems.

The command for us to obey:

Ephesians 4:29:  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

The definition for us to understand:  What are unwholesome words?

Unwholesome:  rotten, corrupted and not fit for use.  When our words are rotten, it’s because there is rot in our hearts.  1 Corinthians 2 says that only we know what’s going on in our hearts (i.e., we can’t judge another’s motives).  BUT, we can be sure that it will eventually show up in visible or audible ways.

Proverbs gives us several categories of “unwholesome” words:

Over-abundant speaking (talking too much)  à  Prov. 10:19:  When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.

                       

Contentious speaking (leading to strife and disputes)  à  arguing.  Do a majority of your conversations turn into arguments, heated or otherwise?  Not healthy debate, or conversational debate.  It’s intentionally causing strife, division, disunity.  It’s intentionally trying to get someone from one camp into yours, to get them off someone else’s side onto your side.  There are 5 verses in Proverbs that talk about contentiousness (4 are about women): 

Prov 21:9 It is better to live in a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

Prov 21:19 It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and vexing woman.

Prov 25:24 It is better to live in a corner of the roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

Prov 26:21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.

Prov 27:15 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike;

Perverse speaking à crooked, improper.  “marked by peevishness or petulance” (cranky).  Cf. Ephesians 5:3-4.  Prov. 6:12: A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth.

Harsh speaking à  painful  11:9:  With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.  Proverbs 25:18:  Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor.

Lying à  don’t need to define this as much.  Prov. 6:16-19 says that lies are an abomination to the Lord.  He hates what is untrue…in this context, especially as it affects those around us. 

                       

Slander  à  false charges or misrepresentations.  Gossip fits into this category.  Ladies, gossip fits into this category, even if it’s true.  When this subject is talked about in the New Testament, it’s almost always accompanied by the word malicious.  This doesn’t mean that “unmalicious” gossip is ok.  I think it means that all gossip is malicious.  In fact, the word translated “malicious gossip” in the NT is used more often to describe Satan himself.  When we gossip, slander, or lie, we are acting just like Satan.  Think about that the next time you’re tempted to gossip.

Women’s meetings can be hotbeds of gossip.  I’m going to tell you right now that that will not be the case here.  If we talk about other people who are not present, we will be honest, but above all, we will be loving, compassionate, and gracious.  I have established a policy in our leadership team meetings that nothing will be said that we would not be willing for another person, particularly the one we’re talking about, to hear.  Gossip is such a serious matter to the Lord that Solomon counseled his sons in Proverbs 20:19 to not even associate with someone who is a gossip.  Elsewhere, those who gossip are called stubbornly rebellious and corrupt in Jeremiah 6, and untrustworthy in Jeremiah 9.  One of the most startling OT passages that talks about gossipers is in Ezekiel 22, when it says that one of the purposes of a slanderer is to shed blood.  Not physical murder, but come close to murdering character, reputation, dignity?  friendships.  our own reputations – what are you telling about yourself when you participate?  Gossip has already hurt me here, and I know it’s hurt others.  We will not participate; more, I think we need to set the example publicly.  I challenge each of you to have as your personal policy that when you hear gossip, you suggest to the gossiper that you go right to the subject of conversation to discuss it.  If they say no, then give them the options of telling the person themselves, you telling the person, or that subject of conversation is over.  [1 of 3 things]  Proverbs 18:21 says that Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  We must decide here and now that we will promote life in the Body of Christ at Martinsburg Church.

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