For several months now, it's been my habit in the morning to tweet a poignant, usually spiritual, quote. They come from all over; sometimes they're from something I'm reading. Other times they're just copy-and-pasted from another twitter account doing the same thing. My purpose has been simply to encourage (or convict) others with a quote that's encouraged (or convicted) me. I've accumulated quite a few quotes from which I choose every morning, and--in an unexpected way--it's been a great tool for me since I read many of them over and over for days or weeks before they get sent out to the interwebs.
Once they're out there, they normally get a couple of Facebook likes and maybe a retweet or two. I hope they're hitting home with others like they are for me. But every now and then, you put one out there and figure out you've really struck a chord. It happened yesterday.
I posted this quote yesterday because it was relevant for me. Reading through Matthew, I'd just been meditating on 15.11: "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person." So I sent it out--and almost immediately started getting notifications that it had been liked or retweeted--and they continued all day. Until they stopped at 11 retweets and 26 likes on Twitter, and 5 likes on Facebook. Now, those are not astronomical numbers, but it's certainly a bigger response than I'm accustomed to on my daily, obscure Christian quotes. I normally have to post pictures of my kids to get a response like that.
Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15.17-19
So why this quote? Why did this one resonate with people so much? I think because we all know it to be true. This is an experience--a biblical truth--with which we're all too familiar. We've all said something or thought something we regret. Some of us do it every day. Or every hour. The words we say, the thoughts we think, reveal who we are deep down. If it's in my heart, eventually it'll make its way out of my mouth. And the same goes for you.
The things that are outside of us may influence us, and they may be harmful. Music, movies, friends, conversation, art, food, drinks, there are a million things outside of us that may influence us negatively. They may feed, highlight, or encourage the darkness in our hearts, the darkness just waiting to escape by the mouth. But those things are not what defile us. Sin defiles us--and my sin starts in my heart. Words. Thoughts. Actions. Those are all just ways to let it out.
So do you say things you wish you could take back? Look at your heart.
Do you think things you're glad no one knows about? Look at your heart.
As you look, though, remember--"good in, good out" or "bad in, bad out" is a simple enough philosophy. There's some truth in that, but there's one easier. Just because you put Christian music and Christian movies and Christian books and Christian other things in, doesn't guarantee you'll get Christian things out. Try this one instead: gospel in, good out.
A heart fixed on the gospel, on the grace, mercy, and kindness of God, is the heart that brings forth good words, thoughts, and actions. A heart fixed on the good news that, in Christ, there's nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there's nothing you can do to make God love you less, is a heart that's been "watched over."
And if that's where your heart is, your tongue won't let you down.