I think that of all the sermons I hear (which isn’t that many compared to Richard who listens to about 37 sermons a day), the ones that convict me the most almost always involve speech. It’s not that I’m some crazy perverted mess; I just tend to notice ways which negative speech affects people.
In high school, I had a friend who I would often insult with the intention of being funny. Soon this joking turned into actual insulting, in which I started to think he was incapable of doing anything well. I would get angry at him and use words I had previously intended for humor in a tone that said, “I don’t like you.” I’m pretty sure these things bounced right off him, but the words I used definitely shaped the way I treated him.
This relationship shaped the way I think about communication with our friends. In fact, I taught myself to remove that type of speech from my vocabulary. But I’m not healed of my problem. Like I said, I stopped saying mean things to people, I stopped being so negative, and I stopped putting down my friends. I willed myself into cleaning up my act. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t end there.
The phrase, “out of the (overflow of the) heart, the mouth speaks,” is thrown around a lot. Considering it’s in the Bible, I tend to wonder if there’s something to that statement. This is the part that gets me every time: I was able to pretty much stop using negative speech, but as soon as my defenses are down, the gross hurtfulness comes right back. On top of that, I’m not very good at encouraging. I don’t believe that my willpower will ever be strong enough to control all of these things.
Here I believe our relationships break down. Because we do not bring prayer, inspiration, and encouragement to our relationships, we have no bond with our friends and our relationships fall apart. Although we continue striving, we cannot on our own change our hearts to properly value our friends.
Instead, only through the Holy Spirit changing us by the blood of Christ will our hearts be transformed to love well through prayer, inspiration, and encouragement.
So thanks again for reading these last three posts. I’ve really enjoyed writing them. I hope they’ve proved valuable in some way, if even as small reminders.
Oh, and bonus points to anyone who noticed the “PIE” acronym. I love bad acronyms.