What goes on in the secret of our hearts will always be made known by what comes out of our mouths... for a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. It matters in our marriages, our friendships, our relationships with our children and EVEN our walk with God. Guard the gates of your heart against negative influences!
Have you ever noticed that different seasons in your life seem to carry different themes? This may seem really obvious, but it wasn't until recently that I truly became aware that while life kept throwing one similar struggle after another into the mix, I was thoroughly being trained up in at least one specific area of spiritual conduct. As I'm sure you can imagine by the title of this post, taming my big mouth - and firstly, my bitter heart and mind - has been my current theme. I have been working on controlling my mouth more and more over the last year and the Lord has blessed me with a peace that I never knew while I took part in talking negatively about others before. One major mistake I was making, however, was allowing myself to think toxic things that I thought I'd never say. What a lie that turned out to be! It not only hardened my heart toward someone but it also provided me with an arsenal of harsh and hurtful things to say to this person when I finally snapped. Was I pushed? Yes. Was I hurt by this person? Absolutely. But God doesn't care who started the fight. He knows what others are doing to you, what they are saying about you... He knows all of that and STILL expects us to behave in a manner that glorifies Him. I had no excuse. After this shameful argument, the Lord really made me step back and examine the state of my heart... and I realized that I do the same thing to my husband more often than I want to admit as well.
So where do we go from here? What are the dangers of entertaining thoughts that you would never say out loud? How do we keep guard the gates to our hearts in the world we live in today? Let's look to scripture for our answer:
In Luke 6:43-45 the Lord warns us that "For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."
Ouch! It hurts to hear the truth sometimes. God clearly tells us that not only will the fruits of our lives never be bad if our hearts are filled with the good of the Lord, and it will never be good if our hearts are filled with evil... but we will also be known by those fruits. Because we are human, there will be times in our lives when we experience each side of this example. What goes on inside our hearts will come to light... too often this happens when we are weak, when emotions are running strong during a disagreement or argument. When we fall short, God always, always, always forgives us. We must know though, that there will also always be consequences. If we don't work hard to improve on keeping a pure heart, we will keep repeating the same mistake over and over. God will forgive us each and every time but sometimes the people in our lives won't. Is that partially their problem? Yes. But relationships can be lost, and that is so not worth it to me! Proverbs 29:11 says that "A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards." This means that we can express our feelings, but we must wait until the time is right and things have settled down. No one wants to seek out someone who lashes out like that when they are in search of friendship, comfort or guidance: "nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes". The Lord firmly tells us that we create our reputation (Luke 6:44) not by the show we "put on" on the outside, but by the good -or bad- fruits of our hearts; especially when life gets tough. He even goes as far as to warn us that we hold the power of creating life OR death within ourselves or within someone else. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Proverbs 18:21.
What does this "fruit" look like in our everyday lives, you might ask? The product or outcome of situations we handle in life, whether they be good or bad, are the fruits of our heart. This can be peace, joy, understanding, and forgiveness; or turmoil, anger, confusion, and division. Whatever goes on in our minds will settle into our hearts and eventually pour out from our mouths. We must begin with controlling what goes on in the secret of our minds in order to maintain a pure heart. That all begins with integrity.
Proverbs 11:3 says "The integrity of the upright shall guide them; but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them." Integrity defined: according to the Strong's Concordance of the KJV Bible, the word "integrity" has Hebrew roots in a word "tom" or "tumma" meaning completeness, innocence, perfection, and simplicity. When we have integrity in our minds and hearts, we are not divided but we are complete. We have nothing to hide; we are innocent. And the great thing about having nothing to hide is just how simple life can be. No extravagant webs to weave in order to keep our sins a secret, no blemishes to cover up. We all fall short, but if we practice integrity and honesty, we will reap the good fruits of a pure and honest heart. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand or to the left: remove thy foot from evil." Proverbs 4:23-27. We are commanded to tend to our hearts on a regular basis, for out of it come the results, or fruits, of our lives.
How do we keep a pure heart?
- Reject negative thoughts and emotions. Say it out loud! I will not be jealous(or hateful, or involved), in the name of Jesus! Say it every single time you begin to think something you shouldn't.
- Guard your eyes and ears. Yep, that's right. Television, music, the people you spend your time with all have influence on the state of your heart. Watching shows that center on gossip, lies and deceitful behavior cause you to be less sensitive to it in real life situations. Spending time with someone who talks endlessly and negatively of other people will tempt you to do the same.
- Fill up on God's word. The Bible is a weapon against evil influences... So use it! Deuteronomy 11:18 says "Therefore shall ye lay up these words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes." Our hand represents our actions, the things which we do. The things we do result in the fruits of our lives. See how it all connects? When God commands us to keep His word as a frontlet between our eyes, he is telling us to keep them distinctly in view and tend to them; be sure we don't forget them.
Lastly, be patient with yourself. We must always forgive ourselves when we mess up because it is our nature to sin. It pleases the flesh to think or say negative things about others and we must realize we are being re-trained. Training always takes time. Continue to pray for yourself and for others. Be honest with yourself and welcome God's influence in your life. Boldly pursue the betterment of your walk with God! In Psalm 139 David asks the Lord to "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. Confess to the Lord, be open with the Lord, seek wisdom in His word and never, ever give up.