November 7, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes nor grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6.43-45
Don’t you remember when your parents told you “Don’t talk with your mouth full!” Maybe you learned that lesson and maybe you didn’t. You know the bottom line of that directive of etiquette was to keep us from spewing food on ourselves, the table and others. And who could truly understand what we were saying anyway when our mouths were already engaged with another important task? And it doesn’t have to be the chewing of food and talking simultaneously to serve as a reminder that we shouldn’t really try to do more than one thing at a time. In today’s world, the greatest violation of the application of this “suggestion” seems to be “don’t cellphone anything and drive.” It used to be the advice was “Don’t drink and drive.” Now we have become so discourteous and addicted that we think the sky is the limit to what we can do and drive. Little thought is given to what is being compromised by others in order to accommodate our bad habits on and off the road. Of course, if the focus of our activity is satisfying self with little or no regard to others, then it isn’t a problem until it is a problem. And I know that isn’t what Jesus was addressing directly but then again maybe it was. What if we operated by the suggestion that we “don’t talk unless our heart is full of good instead of evil”?
Are you saying I am being judgmental? Are you accusing me of going from preaching to meddling? Meddling is an interesting word, is it not. To meddle is to be “intrusive or interfering without warrant or permission.” In other words, mind your own business! But, as mighty ones of God, isn’t our business the business of others? The all popular banner of the modern evangelical faith is “no religion, only relationship.” Excuse me if I have missed the point of relationship but isn’t a relationship about establishing connections with others for their good? In Matthew 18 we find a Jesus-taught pattern of facilitating and maintaining right relationship with others. It is based on the principal of correction (whether by judgment or discernment matters little because Jesus gave us a caveat about judgment, too.) The corrective correction comes out of a heart committed to restoration, reconciliation and righteousness. If we speak with mouths full and a heart empty then what the apostle Paul said to the relational community of faith in Corinth is true. What comes from that mouth is nonsense- a banging gong or a clanging cymbal or the banging of keys on a piano. The intent is to make noise, be loud and draw attention to one’s self establishing one’s self as the locus of importance. If there is any semblance of relationship it is in the acquiescence of others to meet the need of the “mouthful” who is a handful or to vacate the premises altogether and just let them be; but that would be an injustice. And in my understanding of relationship that isn’t a relationship. It is an existence but not a good one. If it is not a good one then it must be an evil one. It has to be one or the other because there is no neutral one. Jesus’ word for that was declared to John in the resurrected Lord’s revelation of the end of the age where He said, “Be hot or cold but never be lukewarm; lukewarm’s value is being spewed out of one’s mouth.” And that is exactly what happens when we “talk with our mouth full.” We spew. We do not effectively communicate. We do not maintain or build up proper relationships. We spew. So, meddling is spewing. I am reflecting on sound doctrine which Jesus proposes is intended to be “truth for all” and that isn’t meddling.
What was that truth? What comes from our mouth is what is in our heart is the truth Jesus proposed to His disciples and those already following after Him by that time. And while some may think that what comes from the mouth out of a full heart is the “overflow” as in a bypass of water for dam so that it relieves pressure so as not to burst the dam and flood what lives below the dam and downriver, that is not what Jesus was alluding to. He was speaking directly to the condition of one’s heart. And there are only two conditions because the third condition would indicate a non-functioning heart. A heart in neutral is a heart which has stopped beating. It serves no good purpose and gives no life to the body. Hear the words of God to the prophet Ezekiel for the people of Israel in bondage in Babylon and in dire circumstances in devastated Israel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36.26) A heart of stone can be taken only one way; it is a non-beating, non-functional heart. A way you can look at that would be a fossilized heart. That would be a heart in a body that has been covered over by sediment and preserved as only a remembrance of what was. It is not alive. Jesus was speaking of a heart that lives. His hope would be that it was a heart committed to good (doing that which God full well intended for it to do and to be.) Of course, the Jewish understanding of the heart was tantamount to the seat of the soul. If the soul was filled with goodness then God is glorified and His will is done on earth as it is in Heaven. If the soul was filled with evil, then God is forsaken and the will of the person takes the place of God’s will. Let us gaze for a minute into the fate of that person who is unrepentant and fully committed to not living as God intends. They do not become stone-cold dead, except in the physical body made from the earth. They become the unconsumed being in the fire of judgment which burns but never reduces to ash. It is the place where the soul is on fire with the passion for self that can never be satisfied. That would be hell! The opposite would be heaven. And the call to live in neither place would be stone-cold dead. If there is a picture of what is a “living dead” person it would not be the caricatures of zombies as is so popular today. Zombies exhibit a purpose to steal, kill and destroy. But, that true “living dead” person doesn’t care about anyone one way or another. They just exist to themselves and for themselves, everything else is just food to stuff in one’s mouth that never satisfies.
I fear we are living in a day where we are seeing the condition of the heart of leadership for a nation spewing forth from the mouths of politicians and their supporting casts. It is a battle between good and evil although, I fear, it is proposed more as a for something and a hardplace or against something and a hard place. What is that saying? Oh yes, we find ourselves “between a rock and a hard place.” Now let me propose this logic observation using a scripture description of Jesus as the Christ. In Psalm 118, David says that the Savior is a “rock and a mighty fortress.” In the gospels, we read “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” There are other allusions to the same understanding of Jesus as the Rock. He is not Alcatraz. He is not Dwayne Johnson. He is the “rock of faith” on which the Church is built. So, let me restate the above in this way: the heart of today’s leadership is centered in two camps “for something and stands opposed to Jesus” and “against something and stands opposed to Jesus.” In both options, they are opposed to Jesus which means they are fighting for a neutral position and become “spew-worthy.” Isn’t that what we are hearing from both sides or all sides? If you mix hot with cold you get lukewarm. If you mix cold with hot you get lukewarm. According to Jesus, lukewarm is spew-worthy and that would be saying a mouthful. We are not supposed to be talking with our mouths full. We are supposed to be speaking with our hearts full. We need to be clear as to our intent: good or evil- for God and God’s people or against God and God’s people. Mind you, it is my understanding that we are all God’s people. As mighty ones of God we are “the people of God” as those who are called by His name and call upon His name. What would happen if in this election we actually voted based on alignment with God’s Word instead of words offered by those who see themselves as gods? Hard to decide which is which? Would that be because in the desire for votes they stay as close to the middle, neutral, lukewarm and confusingly semi-committal? They are spew worthy and it seems that is what we are getting: spewed upon.
This is a call to prayer that God will reveal which is right, true and good for His people- all His people. It seems nothing is better than “the Way, the Truth and the Life” which is Jesus Christ. Come, Lord Jesus!
We offer our concern for this nation’s leadership, o God, and for the people who are led by it. We pray that they would seek to follow the only way, the only truth and the only life which is worthy of praise and worthy of living and that is Your Word known best in Jesus who is the Christ. We surrender to Your Will in tomorrow’s election and that we conduct ourselves a people of God in the midst of all of God’s people. We pray this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.