“These people come near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Isaiah 29:13
“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. Psalm 63:3
“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
When we are preparing to give our cat, Coco, a can of wet cat food, she, knowing what is coming, begins meowing like crazy. My wife was saying to her, “Hold your horses! Be patient! It’s coming. And not being able to interpret every meow, I said maybe she is saying, “Oh, thank you, thank, thank you! You take such good care of me. One creative cartoonist said that when we talk to our pets, all they hear is “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! Maybe, maybe not. In any case, since we cannot precisely interpret meows and barks we do not always know what our pets are saying back to us. And though we know a whole lot better the language of humans who speak our language, we do not always accurately interpret what they are really saying, especially if the intent of their heart is not known. We know this because the words that pass our own lips do not always conform to the intent in our heart.
The air of this world which we breathe is filled with a mega-abundance of words, yet the Bible clearly reveals to those willing to listen that God pays particular, in fact, detailed attention to the words that pass our lips, even those words formed in thought but not spoken. And what is more we are told that our words will be judged. We may consider this a trivial measurement to use as a major source of judgment, but the truth is that our words, no matter how few or many, come from what is in our heart; and they reveal the good or evil which is stored there. (Luke 6:45) King David was so profoundly moved by this that he earnestly prayed: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3) Would that such a prayer be ours daily!
The philosophy and theology of language taught throughout the Bible in verses like Luke 6:45, teaches specifically that what we speak is simply an overflow from what fills our heart. Consequently, your words taken accumulatively are a picture of who you really are, and they become an accurate evaluation of your entire life. If this truth penetrated your mind, David’s prayer would certainly be yours unceasingly. And if such a prayer were sincere, you would become intent on the matter that fills your heart, knowing that its overflow is what you speak. For such matter to be concentrated on the greatest subject in the universe, the only subject that can fully satisfy, the only subject that will never disappoint, and the only subject that will be eternally worthy of judgment, it must be God Himself. And you simply cannot attain this apart from personal, intimate time with Him. The nature of life itself in this fallen world is an all-out war to subvert that very thing. Time alone with God, developing a real conversation and an environment to listen to what He has to say to you necessitates a discipline that defies the world where we live. But this is exactly why David explains, “Because your love is better than life…. Without such an appreciation, it will never happen.
This is the very discipline, at the pinnacle of His earthly ministry, the Lord purposed to convey to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal: “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak. (Matthew 26:40-41) This is the discipline of filling the heart, from which come your words, and your entire life is evaluated.
“Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; spend much time in secret with Jesus alone. By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be; thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
(2nd verse of William Longstaff’s hymn, “Take Time to Be Holy, 1887)
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