“Jesus spoke only the words the Father gave Him.” I read this in a Bible study I am working through.1 This sentence causes me to pause. Not because I think the statement is doctrinally unsound. The proof is John 14:24. I stop to think about the origins of my speech, the message that comes from my mouth. Do I filter what I am about to say through the Word of God, holding back any comment that is based on personal feelings, cultural bias, or a worldly perspective?
Matt 12:34b–“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” [NKJV]
Is Scripture abundant in my heart guiding my speech? When it is, my response to another person is not harsh (Prov. 15:1), but gentle (Prov. 15:4). I ponder my answer (Prov 15:28). If I am insulted or criticized, I do not respond with insults or criticism but with a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
I put away bitterness, wrath, slander, and malice (Eph. 4:31). Merriam-Webster.com defines bitterness as “a deep-seated ill will;” wrath as an “intense emotional state induced by displeasure;” slander as “the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation;” malice as “a desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another.”
“Let your speech always be with grace,” we are told in Colossians 4:6a. To have our speech controlled by grace we must have grace in our hearts (Col. 3:16), writes Warren W. Wiersbe in his commentary on the book of Colossians. Why? “It is from the heart that the mouth speaks. With grace in our hearts and on our lips, we will be faithful witnesses and not judges or prosecuting attorneys,” he explains.2
The author of the Bible study I referred to at the beginning, Mary Shannon Hoffpauir, wrote the love reigning in the heart of Jesus Christ was evident in what came out of His mouth. I may have mentioned the definition of this agape love before, but it is important to know the kind of love that reigned in Christ’s heart. It is a love that “intelligently, intensely wills the best for another.”3
This type of love prompts thoughtful speech. We consider the impact of the words we are about to speak so they will be constructive, benefiting the listener (Eph. 4:29). In the book of James, we are told to be quick to hear and slow to speak (1:19). This means we listen carefully to what is being said and take our time responding rather than preparing our answer as the person we are conversing with is speaking. Our speech must be vitally important to God if we will give an account of every careless word spoken (Matt. 12:36).
Ultimately, we just can’t be too careful. If we aren’t changed on the inside eventually the words that pour from our lips will expose the ungodly characteristics that remain in our heart. Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:11 that it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles us. When our responses are less than godly, we need to examine our heart. I want a heart filled with gratitude, love, grace, mercy, compassion, kindness… so my speech will reflect a transformed heart. How about you?
Join the Conversation
1-What comes out of your mouth? Honestly examine your heart. Is there anything you need to work on?
2-As you are transformed by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, do you notice changes in your speech? If so, what?
1- “Lose Control: The Way to Find Your Soul” by Mary Shannon Hoffpauir published by Abingdon Press.
2. “Be Complete” New Testament commentary on Colossians by Warren W. Wiersbe published by David C. Cook.
3- “The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words” by Terry L. Miethe published by Bethany House Publishers.