“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”
The New International Version (NIV) reads, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” And the New American Standard Bible (NASB) reads, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
The occasion for Jesus’ words can be found by reading all of Matthew chapter 12. In this chapter, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, are conspiring to kill him. It’s obvious that they are motivated out of jealousy of Jesus’ growing influence among the people but they disguise their jealousy behind their self-righteous accusations. They accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath (Matt 12:10) and then attribute his healing of a demon-possessed, blind and mute man to the work of the price of demons rather than to the power of God (Matthew 12:24)! Self-deceived, they speak as if their hatred is motivated out of righteous indignation, when in fact it is simply an overflow of the evil that dwells within them.
It is in this context that Jesus says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Jesus’ words are biting but merciful because he will not allow the Pharisees to live in self-delusion. Straightaway Jesus exposes their critical questions, sinful reasoning and flawed conclusions for what it is; not concern for God’s righteousness but rather an outflow of hatred and jealousy. Their mouths speak forth what is brewing in their hearts.
What is filling your heart? What attitudes and desires are overflowing out of you? Do you feel betrayed or jilted by a friend? Disrespected by a child or spouse? Or maybe even ignored by God? Or, are you grateful for your job? Thankful for the health of your child? Or, proud of the inner, moral strength of your spouse? What’s filling your heart?
According to Jesus, you can know what’s filling your heart by simply listening to what’s coming out of your mouth. Listen to what you talk about, complain about, whisper about, text about and scream about. What’s the content of your conversations? What’s the attitude behind them? It’s also not just what you say that reveals what’s in your heart, but it’s also what you don’t say that reveals what’s not in your heart.
I pray that God will grant you his love and courage to face yourself; to objectively examine your words and address either the joy or sorrow, love or hatred, humility or pride, peace or bitterness that’s filling your soul. Know that Jesus loves you just the way you are today but much, too much to let you stay that way. May he grant you the wisdom and humility to rightly access your words.