Psalm 51:10 - Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
My friend had no intention of hurting anybody.
We'll call her Mandy. She's a sweet, warm person with a bubbly personality; she's funny and lovable and kind. This gal wouldn't willingly hurt a fly.
But she has absolutely no control of her tongue.
In the brain, out the mouth-that's Mandy's modus operandi. But sometimes, things she intends to be humorous or teasing inflict hurtful wounds. She's always sincerely repentant, but as most of us have learned from experience, our words can no more be recalled than feathers in the wind.
Last time it happened, Mandy came to me in tears. A simple, thoughtless comment-spoken without malice, but equally without forethought-had caused a deep rift in a valued relationship, and this time her abject apologies were not enough. In fact, her church body would almost certainly lose a beloved member, and Mandy herself would lose a good friend. All because of her unruly tongue.
"What am I going to do about my mouth?" Her anguished gaze pleaded with me to do something, and I longed to repair the damage, but only God could do that.
"Let's pray, " I suggested. “Then I want to show you something. "
Dutifully, she knelt. We joined hands and prayed a simple prayer while tears raced in endless streams from my friend's eyes. Then I opened my Bible and read with her.
No, I didn't take her to the famous verses about the tongue in James chapter three-though the disciple's words are still true, and I love that passage of scripture. But I knew Mandy had read it before, many times. This wasn't a new problem. She knew her tongue was out of control. She also knew she had been less than successful at taming it.
What she hadn't realized was that the problem lay elsewhere!
We visited the Book of Psalms and discovered a correlation between the heart and the tongue. Over and over again, David linked the two.
Psalm 17:3 (NIV) - Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.
What's this? David all but challenged God to find sin in his mouth . . . by examining his heart!
Psalm 19:14 (NIV)- May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Again, David indicates a link between the reflections of his heart and the words he speaks.
The New Testament picked up the same significant message in the very first book.
Matthew 12:34 - You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
Over and over, scripture after scripture, we found the same, straightforward message: If your heart isn't right, your mouth will reveal it. The only way to tame the tongue is to purify the heart.
Finally Mandy worked up a ghost of a smile. “What a relief!" she said. “I was seriously starting to have nightmares about Matthew 5:30. "
Puzzled, I flipped open my Bible and looked it up.
(NIV) And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
"Mandy!" I tried not to laugh, but of course it was wasted effort.
"Okay, okay. " Mandy still looked a little subdued, but she was smiling, and I was glad to see it. “Just my heart talking again. But me and God are gonna get a handle on that real soon!
"Father, we ask that You purify our hearts today - make them clean and undefiled before You. Your Word says the condition of our hearts is reflected in the words we speak, and we sincerely want to speak only those things that edify and encourage others. Let it not be so that we should hurt or harm one of Your children, nor endanger our own souls, because our tongues are unruly. Create clean hearts and right spirits within us, Father. Make us like You, and the words of our mouths will bring refreshment and joy. We ask it in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Delia Latham's novel, Goldeneyes, was released March 30, 2008 by Vintage Romance Publishing. The author lives in Bakersfield, California with her husband, Johnny. Contact her through her website (http://www.delialatham.com ), blog (http://themelodywithin.blogspot.com ) or newsletter (http://bookshelfnewsletter.blogspot.com ).