Deterioration of the Heart

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. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. – Matthew 12:33-37.

About thirty years ago when I was working in the oilfield I had started going to church and wanted to invite the men working on my crew to attend church with me. There was a revival at my church and so I invited them. Their response was a surprising one. They said that whenever I stopped cursing, they would come to church and then they laughed. Well, it was true I did have a problem, whenever things would go wrong or I would hit my finger or whatever, one or two words would just seem to come out of my mouth. However, we made a deal if I could stop for a week; they would come to church. It took me six weeks before I made it through a whole week without a curse word coming out of my mouth. Only one of them ever came to my church but I have never had a problem since with cursing.

According to a Parent’s Television Council report in the year 2000 sex, violence and foul language on television had increased by three-fold since 1989. Specifically, for those eleven years foul language had increased five and one-half times. References to previously unmentionable things had also increased many times. I do not have any statistics but I would suspect that the language of people as a whole who watch television programming had deteriorated on a similar proportionate basis. Since the year 2000 especially during the last few years it seems to me that the deterioration has accelerated even more.

Luke 6:45 (and Matthew 12:35) gives us some direction for controlling our speech and actions. According to Luke 6:45 if we store evil things up in our hearts then evil things come out in our lives. However, if we store good things up in our lives good things come out. Romans 13:14 in the KJV tells us not to make provision for sin and another translation tells us not to even think about how to gratify our sinful desires. Philippians 4:8 tells us what we should think about instead.

As I found out with my language problem, once you have the sin problem it is much harder to rid yourself of it. The best thing to do is to guard your heart, keep your heart (Proverbs 4:23) so that evil things are not coming into your heart. If you only have good things stored up in your heart it is much more likely that only good things will come out. What have you been putting into your heart?

It is the beginning of a New Year and for those of you with a language problem perhaps this is the time to begin to change. I would never have stopped if I had not tried to stop. Make a commitment and keep that commitment. You will probably fail a few times but do not let that deter you from continuing because through the power of God you can overcome your language problem. (And, if you do not have the problem please pass this on to someone that does because it sounds as though more and more people do have a problem.)

(What we put into our hearts and lives will eventually flow out through our speech and through our actions.)

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