The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 57

“Your speech betrays you” (Matthew 26:73)

I remember my childhood visits to the doctor. I could never understand why he always wanted t see my tongue when it was never the reason I went to him in the first place! As I grew older I discovered that I wasn't the only one whose tongue interested the doctor. In fact, it soon became obvious that one of the first things the doctor said to most patients was “let me see your tongue”. I thought it weird, to say the least. But my dad explained that it is often possible for the doctor to make a diagnosis simply by looking inside a person’s mouth.

Now, whilst this is true of a person's natural condition, it is even more true as a test of a person’s spiritual health. A person’s speech reveals what is going on inside. That is why Jesus said “out of the abundance (or overflow) of the heart the mouth speaks”(Matt. 12:34). The apostle Peter, on the night of Jesus’ arrest, made the mistake of opening his mouth. When he spoke, some of the bystanders recognized his dialect and said “Surely you are also one of them, for your speech betrays you” (Matt 26:73). Although he tried to deny their accusations, his speech revealed who he really was.

Our speech reveals much about us, even though we may try our best to hide the truth. Our accent and dialect can indicate the country and the region that we came from. The words or phrases we use reveal our education and refinement, or the absence of it. The things we talk about most can indicate our chief interests in life. But more importantly, one word from our mouth can reveal volumes about our heart!

Now, when the bible talks about the ‘heart’, it is really talking about the character of the man. All our words and our actions spring from our character. Jesus said that a good tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree will bear bad fruit. “Make a tree good and the fruit will be good”. The tree determines the quality of the fruit! We don’t treat the fruit to make the tree good. So it is with our hearts.

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh and salt water flow from the same spring? Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” (Jas. 3: 9-12). The source determines the goodness.

Like the physician who examines the tongue, we too should be able to diagnose some of our spiritual illnesses by taking note of the things we say. Gossip, slander, dirty talk and the like are the fruit of character deficiencies. They are really heart issues! They are dealt with through sincere repentance, and through allowing God to work on us from the inside. Simply exercising ‘willpower’ to refrain from these evil practices is like plucking the bad fruit off the tree to make the tree good. A good example of how ineffective ‘willpower’ is to permanently change character, is that of the man who is a ‘gentleman’ until his tongue is loosened by alcohol!

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues