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The Heart Speaks

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” –Mother Teresa

An elderly lady approached a stock clerk in the produce section of the grocery store and asked, “Son, can I purchase a half-head of lettuce?” The clerk replied, “Are you kidding? They grow as full heads, and that’s how we sell them.” The woman persisted, “But I’ve been shopping here for thirty years—couldn’t you make an exception?”

The clerk told her he would go ask the store’s manager.

He found the manager in the front of the store and began, “Some crazy old lady asked if I could sell her a half-head of lettuce!” Noticing the look of panic on the manager’s face, he turned to see the woman had followed, and was standing directly behind him as he spoke.

The clerk continued, “And this nice lady, right here, is asking if she can buy the other half.”

Our tongue can get us in trouble!

“The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).

James didn’t mince words. He describes a variety of wild animals man can tame, contrasting, “but no human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:8).

But taming the tongue isn’t so much a matter of the tongue as it is a matter of the heart. Jesus teaches: “The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” (Matthew 15:18).

A first step is to examine what comes out of our mouths. What does it reveal? “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” (James 3:9-12).

When was the last time I said something I regret? What was behind it? What do I need to confess? Who should I offer an apology?

The next step is to pray. This week, let’s echo the prayers of the Psalmist.

My prayer this week – “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” (Psalm 139:4). “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).