As we walk with God, it’s good when others challenge us to be more like Christ. But it can be hard to accept what they have to say. After all, the sins and struggles they notice in our lives naturally cause us to become defensive and offended. It’s important, though. God uses other Christians in the sanctification process, and if we desire to love Him more, we must take heed when others notice sin living within us.
It’s become clear to me that I say hurtful things. Although I usually don’t intend to hurt people with the words I say, my lack of caution often gets me in trouble. So, I want to take a few moments to examine what God’s Word has to say about our words.
I’m reminded of how Jesus takes it beyond the surface. Rather than merely focusing on what is heard, He addresses the heart of the matter.
“‘For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks’” (Luke 6:43-45 ESV).
Just as a good tree produces good fruit, so should a good heart produce godly and helpful words. And just as a bad tree produces nasty fruit, so does a nasty heart produce hurtful and bitter words.
Does that mean I have a nasty heart? Well, it’s definitely not as good as it should be. And that’s why I must yield to God’s work of sanctification. My words should echo that of the psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps. 139:23-24 ESV).
I haven’t arrived. I don’t have it all together. And I need the sanctifying work of Christ to change my heart every single day. To be more like His. To be more holy, pure, undefiled, and unstained by this world.
So, as Jesus says, out of the abundance of my heart, my mouth speaks. And so, if my words are to be more Christlike, it must start with my heart. And the same is true for you.
Hurtful words abound these days. Especially on Facebook and Twitter. But as followers of Christ, our words should build others up, bless the Lord, and bring glory to Him each and every day.
But, as Jesus makes clear, this change begins in the heart.
Will you allow God to change you from the inside out? Will you confess your sinful heart to Him?
It might be nasty words or actions. Nasty thoughts or deeds. But we must surrender our hearts to God.
Father, thank you for your grace. Thank you for redeeming us from death to life. Teach us to trust you with our lives. Do work in our hearts. Search us. Challenge us. Reveal our sin to us. And make us more like Christ. In our words, thoughts, and deeds.
May God do a work in your heart and mine. It’s time for heart work.
Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at www.isaiahpauley.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.