Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
Word of the Day
On a Tuesday after lunch duty, I was walking behind two students who were involved in a deep conversation when I overheard one of them use profanity. At the time I didn’t address what I heard but began to ponder why these seventh graders were so comfortable with speaking to one another in that way. Knowing one of the students would be in my 6th period class later in the day, I decided to change the focus question in order to get some healthy feedback on my curiosity. As a class, I asked “In what ways can we communicate in a more positive way with our peers?”. I was amazed at the variety of comments and astonished at the response of the student I heard cursing earlier. “We need to stop cursing and use good words. My grannie said that people who cuss are ignorant, got a little vocabulary,” he said. The class giggled and began to comment about someone they knew who used profanity on a regular basis. At that time, I redirected these young people to think about what they were sharing. When I surveyed to find out who would admit to cursing, about half the class admitted to cursing sometimes but not the young man I overheard. His inability to admit to his peers that he used profanity deeply troubled me. After class I told him what I thought I heard earlier and before I could complete my sentence he began giving me his reasons for “talking like everybody else” in school. This young man was a victim of his environment. He didn’t believe he was strong enough to appear different from his peers. For days after our conversation the student made an effort to discretely let me know if he had slipped and said a bad word. I used these confessions to encourage him to make better choices.
How many of us can relate to my student? You may not use profanity but are tempted to have conversations that displease God. It may be that you are surrounded by friends, family or coworkers who pass gossip, or you find enjoyment in unfairly judging and criticizing others. The Bible makes strong references of the importance of knowing what and how we are to speak. Some of us are like the children I teach; we look for a way to justify the deeper issue: contents of the heart. The psalmist makes a humble plea to the Lord, suggesting that God is able to help us grow in our thoughts and words. David distinguishes that there is a relationship between what we are thinking and what we say. God wants us to have a pure heart, knowing that He requires us to be holy in all things. “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything (1John 3:20).” What we say originates with the thoughts of our heart. For my students to understand the principle of how to change what they speak, I gave them an analogy of the waste basket in my classroom. When it’s filled with dry wrappers and old papers, if it were to fall over, it would be easy to pick up the can and paper. However, if the basket were to fall over being filled with chewed gum, soda cans, banana peels, and used tissues, cleaning it up would be a mess. In the same way that the contents would come out of my wastebasket when knocked over, when we open our mouths the content of our hearts spill out as words. Luke 6:45 teaches us that whatever we say is a reflection of what is in our hearts. In order for us to cleanse the heart we have to take a stand concerning what we are willing to allow to enter in. Holy Spirit empowers us to take a stand and face our weaknesses in order to make better choices. This means we have to choose to change what we watch, what we listen to, where we go, and ultimately who we associate with.
Father, today I ask that you search my heart. I know I suffer with thoughts, words and emotions that are sometimes displeasing to you. Show me myself and give me the courage to change. I ask for your grace to surrender my heart fully to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflect & Journal
Have you taken the time to examine your words? Would you feel comfortable having most of your conversations in the presence of your parents? Your pastor? Your children? Why or why not?
Name the thoughts and words you have that would be pleasing to God.
Name the thoughts and words you have that would dishonor the Lord? What attracts you to say the things you do?