Zev Porat

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Weight of Words: Luke 6:45

Words... They have the power to build up, tear down, encourage, discourage, instruct, and the power to deconstruct. This is true, if and only if, one believes words convey meaning; that is, individual words contain meaning and when individual words are combined they convey a string of meaning that carries weight from the speaker to the hearer. This weight, as mentioned, refers to the weight of thought, the magnitude of complex communication that accompanies words when translated from a speaker to a hearer. This logic is the basis of communication within a society. Moreover, in order for the transmission of thought between two parties to exist there must be a common ground of understanding, as it relates to the meaning of words communicated. I know I might be getting a little deep in the sociological study of communication, language, and words but I ask you to stick with me and see how the topic of words and their meanings affect all who have called upon Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.


In order to make this topic more practical, take for example the parent/child relationship. By using language (which is composed of words that carry a specific meaning), a parent communicates with his/her child on a regular basis. Contained within the words a parent says to his/her child are meaningful statements that have an effect on the child. With the meaning of the words the parent communicates to a child, the child develops an outlook on life and an outlook on himself/herself. In addition, through this relationship, there is a learning of what is appropriate and acceptable regarding the usage of words and what is not acceptable or appropriate. A child will develop a language based upon what he or she hears on a regular basis. However, language is not only important for children or the less learned. The words used by those who are old enough to know what is appropriate or not reveals volumes of information about one's character, beliefs, and integrity. Never is this point more critical than in the life of an individual who has professed Christ as Lord and Savior.


Throughout Scripture believers are admonished several times with regard to words they use. Paul handled the issue of language in his letter to the Ephesians when he wrote about the believer's life after accepting Christ. Paul, beginning with the last half of Ephesians 4 and continuing through the first part of Ephesians 5, made an appeal to the believers in Christ that because they came to know the truth contained within Jesus they must put off their pre-Christ self and put on their new nature with God's holiness and righteousness. One of the specific elements Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:29 was "unwholesome talk." Then again, in Ephesians 5:4, Paul listed "obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking" and Paul went on to say that these items are "out of place" in the new nature of holiness and righteousness. James also wrote about the tongue and the power contained within the tongue in James 3. In James' discourse on the tongue he likened the power of the tongue to a rudder on a ship and also pointed out the hypocrisy of believers using their tongue in a degrading manner and then attempting to praise God with the same tongue. However, some of the most poignant teaching about the tongue comes from the mouth of Jesus Christ.

In Luke 6:45b Jesus is recorded as saying, "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." In an effort to keep this statement within its original context, this is the whole verse: "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). In this section of teaching Jesus was talking about the fact that the character, the morals, and the integrity found within a man's nature will come out through that man's actions—specifically his words. Thus, the things we say reflect our internal character. Therefore (putting together Paul's teaching and Jesus' teaching), if we say we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then our nature is being refined according to God's standard of holiness and righteousness and there is no place for evil to remain within us and come out through our words and phrases. In other words, to reference James 3:10, our words from our mouths should not attempt to mix obscenity and unwholesome talk with the praise and adoration to Holy God whose very nature stands opposed to such profane things. It is my prayer that believers would take note of the witness for Jesus Christ available to them with their language and use their words to be the light to the ever-darkening world in which we live while leaving the coarse, obscene, and profane behind as it has been removed by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.

James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years. 
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.  

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