Text: James 3.10-12.
Icebreaker: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12.34). What do you think about this phrase? Do you find yourself saying things that you don’t want to say? Do you have times where your heart and your head disagree and what is inside of you spills out in what you say?
In his book, “After you believe”, the author, N. T. Wright, tells the story of a man who wanted to make a point to his friend who had a short temper. So, when they were helping to serve people at a party, he gave his friend a tray of drinks glasses. Every glass on the tray was full to the brim. When they were serving the guests, he bumped into his friend on purpose, spilling the contents of the glasses all over the tray. When his friend looked at him, he explained that we only spill out what we are full of. There are three central truths that we need to observe in this area:
1) You will spill out what you are full of.
I know that we tend to make excuses; at least I know I do. But the reality is that we can’t help but spill what is inside of us. The situation that we are in may increase the strength of the spillage or make it more explosive, but if those thoughts and attitudes and feelings weren’t there in the first place, they would not be able to come out.
The problem is that people spend more time trying to control what comes out than they do being concerned with what is inside their hearts and minds.
It is not my intention to make anyone feel bad, but we need to recognise what is inside of us. We wouldn’t leave a rotten potato in a bag containing good potatoes, would we? That is because if we don’t recognise and remove it, the rot will spread to the other potatoes and the whole lot will be lost. (That can also be applied to picanha).
We need to stop making excuses. It is time to face it and to ask God to help us to change. How many marriages, friendships, families, career, jobs, ministries end because of the rotten or poisoned words that people speak? Sometimes people will regret it for the rest of their lives and once the words are out of our mouths we cannot go back and the impact of our words will last. The only way to prevent such things is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit who fills us with His fruits – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control.” (Galatians 5: 22-23) Letting the Spirit into our lives so that we can be this way, starts with us choosing what we feed on.
2) Be careful what you fill yourself with.
The recognition that we are full of the wrong things is the first step, but if we don’t stop filling up with new wrong stuff, then we will continue to spill the wrong things into our lives and the lives of the people around us.
We need to stop the cycle! It is hard to have a healthy life if we only eat fast-food, fish and chips and fat meat. In the same way, it is impossible to have good things coming out of our mouth when we feed our souls with ‘bad’ stuff all the time. I am not asking anyone to stop watching TV or listening to music, in the same way, that no one asks someone with a bad diet to stop eating altogether. But let’s make healthy choices with our lives.
It is tough to listen to God when we spend 10-hours watching trash TV programs + 4 hours of music that doesn’t have anything useful to say! So, let’s read and listen to what is good, and to things that will nourish our souls. It can seem overwhelming to make the change, but we can do it step by step, so that it becomes a habit in our life rather than something that we start and just give up on because we have made it too difficult by trying to change everything at once. Small changes can, over time, have big results and that’s a really encouraging reason to get started.
3) Remember that your words are seeds
I remember that when I was growing up in Brazil I would often hear the phrase “words are powerful”. Even in a context that was not religious, that phrase kept me thinking. The truth is that every word that we say is a seed, and every seed will try to produce fruit. People forget this principle when they are complaining about their lives, shouting at someone or just making a comment to pass the time. We, and others, believe our words, and if they are negative then they take root and grow and do damage.
Remember that we will have to be accountable for everything we say (Matthew 12.36), and that is because your words call things into existence.
Our words can bless or curse, encourage or discourage, build up or tear down, bring people together or scatter them, offer life or only death. We have the opportunity to speak the life that comes from Jesus, into the people around us and when we do that, what grows from those seeds is love, hope, peace and joy. Isn’t that what everyone needs - someone to speak those things to them? We can be someone who spills those things into other people’s lives, our words can bring the life of Jesus right to their hearts.
Conclusion: It is time to think and reflect on our lives. God is inviting us to recognise what is inside of us and to ask Him to help us to have a different attitude from now on in whatever areas we have a problem. Let’s be blessed, and let’s bless.
 N. T. Wright, after you believe: Why Christians character Matters (New York: Harper One, 2010)