Two verses lead to today's post: Matthew 12:34b and James 3:11.
Matthew 12:34b "For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." (NASB)
James 3:11 "Does a fountain send out from the same opening both [g]fresh and bitter water?" (NASB)
Luke 6:45c and Proverbs 4:23 are also referenced - but for our purposes - the above two verses will do just fine.
Here is the thing about how we speak to others. However I decide to speak to the people God has put around me - friends, family, loved ones, neighbors, besties, church family, acquaintances; everyone - and however lofty my ideals might be about how I want to speak to this "cloud of witnesses" or sphere of influence - I will never manage to consistently speak to them very differently from how I speak to myself, in my own head. I can't speak to all those people out there - you know - you guys - and everyone else I might like to meet up for some kayaking, picnicking, and summer fun - very differently from the way in which I speak to myself. This is an aspect of that verse in James about the fresh and bitter water fountains. There is not a single fountain in the world that shoots out water that's salty - and also shoots out water that's fresh. I mean you could try and make one - but it'd be an exercise in frustration and futility - because it would break down, cease to work and want to be a desperate mess of plumbing.
This isn't a new idea.
It just seems to be an idea that took an inordinate amount of time to really settle into my bones.
The other part of this idea is that the thing that we have the most of for ourselves in our hearts - that's going to be the thing we talk about. All. The. Time. There are people I've met recently who I've pummeled with question after question about social media - and maybe they now think I love that more than anything else. But I can't sustain conversation after conversation, year after year on that topic.
You know what I can talk about forever? Discipleship. Growing closer to God. Bible study methods, jouraling methods, great books on growing your walk with God, TED talks that spill over into areas I'm working to grow more, gardening, hiking, health topics, fresh berries ... really. Don't get me going.
Actually - I'm not kidding. That list isn't my ideal.
If I want my ideal - in other words - for people to come away from a conversation with me knowing that I love this God whose love is the best medicine, most hilarious joke, most compelling story, most righteous political ideal, most healthful habits, most peaceful rest, most joyous happiness, most wise words, most poetic beauty - then those are all the things I need to actually fill my heart with.
If you think this sounds like Philippians 4:8 - you're right!
Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [a]lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [b]dwell on these things." (NASB)
There are some verses that are kinda scary to think about taking literally - but I don't think this is one of them. If I want to have abundant love, plentiful grace, overflowing wisdom, sloshing over the rim kindness for everyone around me - then I'd better sow that stuff like mad in my thoughts - which is another way to say I'd better sow it like mad in my own heart. Which means I'm not going to have time to do that weird thing that so many of us seem to have been taught to do you ... you know - open up a can of holy whoop-butt on ourselves - and let ourselves have it for whatever. But that would lead to precisely the abundance I don't want to give to anyone.
To be honest - if I could just get this one thing down pat - there might not be a need for another single post on speech - salty, gracious or otherwise.
To attempt to speak to others more kindly than we speak to ourselves - will lead us to fly off the rails and we'll either speak license about our flaws and permissiveness will come pouring out of our mouths - or we'll toy with self-righteousness and judgment will dribble everywhere. The middle between those two extremes seems to a space that we can't stand in ... it's too slippery - too illusive. In order to stay there - we can only humbly bow and with a contrite heart kneel before the Perfect God who never speaks a wrong word. It's a terrible place to stand - but what a place to take refuge under the wing of the Creator.
I'm gonna stop here and go think. Here's a clip of a fountain - I love this video - it's a little wobbly at the beginning - but keep watching. Enjoy. Praying you have a lovely weekend!