If we want to bring more peace to our lives and to the lives of others, a good place to begin is by taking an inventory of our hearts. As the Amplified Bible puts it, it’s out of the heart’s overflow that the mouth speaks. Try picturing a bucket of dirty water. Now imagine putting a brick in the bucket and watching as the dirty water overflows. It’s the same with our hearts. Think of the brick as the input we get—the way others treat us, the circumstances we face, the opportunities that present themselves. What comes out of our mouths is strictly a function of what is already in the bucket.

If love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, what Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit, are in your bucket, your words will bear witness. But if your words are often tinged with anger, self-pity, hostility, jealousy, or complaining, then something is amiss. Chronic negative speech is a symptom of a heart problem, not a speech problem.

Fixing it requires that we admit we have a problem and that we ask God and others for forgiveness. But that’s not all. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians (chapter 5), he says that when their lives are controlled by the Holy Spirit, they will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. If we want our words to produce good things for ourselves and others, we have to learn to yield to God’s Spirit, seeking to put every area of our lives under his control and guidance. All of us are guilty of negative speech at times, but the more we ask God to fill us with his Spirit, the more we will find that our tongues become instruments of blessing rather than of hurt. 

(Image courtesy of kirstyhall at flickr.com)

 





Originally published November 21, 2013.