For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
(Matthew 12:34 NIV)
Friend to Friend
“Yes, they are,” his mom replied. “They have germs on them, you just can’t see them.”
“Germs and Jesus,” the boy huffed. “That’s all I hear about around here and I’ve never seen anyone of them!”
That’s a cute story, but we know that both germs and Jesus are very real. Hand sanitizers are available in every scent imaginable. Heaven help us if we get a germ from the shopping buggy or a door handle. Have you ever had someone shake your hand and then walk away squirting sanitizer in his or her palms? I have. I’m not so sure how I feel about that. But don’t you wish there was a heart sanitizer? A few squirts and voila, we’re good to go. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
All through the Bible we have accounts of God sending men and women out into the world with a message. Whether it is a message of repentance, judgment, deliverance, or hope, God made sure the messengers were placed in strategic moments in time to make an impact on those around them. But God didn’t send the messengers out unprepared. He trained them as only He can do, and He always put them through a process to examine their own hearts.
Isaiah was called to prophesy to Jerusalem 740 years before Christ. In the first five chapters, the overriding theme is impending judgment:
Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field…Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks…Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes…Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks (Isaiah 5:8,11,18,20-22).
But then something happens to Isaiah as he sees his own life reflected in God’s magnificent glory. Isaiah had a vision.
I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne, and the train of his robe filled
the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered
their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they
were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is
full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:1-5).
I imagine Isaiah was feeling pretty good about himself, being called by God to prophesy to this irksome people. But just when he got out the sixth woe, God decided to hold up the mirror of His holiness in which Isaiah saw his own sin and examined his own heart. And where did the sin manifest itself? His words.
God doesn’t convict us of our sin to condemn us. He reveals our sin to clean us. Just as Isaiah was lamenting his foul tongue, one of the seraphim (brightly shimmering, heavenly beings whose name means “burning ones”) picked up a live coal with tongs from the altar of atonement and touched it to the prophet’s lips.
Now Isaiah was ready to go out into the world and proclaim God’s message to His people, and his “Woe is me” was transformed into “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). Now his heart was right before God.
Isaiah didn’t need to change his eating or drinking habits. He didn’t need to alter his outward appearance or take extra classes at the local seminary. He needed to have his words purified and his heart fortified so God could be properly glorified. While it is the Holy Spirit that gives us the power to change the words we speak, the desire to change begins in the heart.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said: Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit…For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will condemned (12:33-37 NIV).
As my grandmother would say: “What is down in the well will come up in the bucket.”
If we want to change the way we speak, we must examine our heart—the well. Let’s pray with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 ESV)
Heavenly Father, my prayer is simple but difficult today: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
If you can, get a piece of coal and set it in a prominent place in your home. Let it be a reminder of Isaiah’s prayer to cleanse our lips.
More from the Girlfriends
Sharon’s best-selling book, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others and Bible study guide are being re-released with new content, including a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated! Pre-order before April 21, 2020 and receive a free downloadable e-book of Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence plus much more! Click here for details.
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. Learn how to
- exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
- recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
- overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
- tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
- stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold into the power of the Holy Spirit