I do not want to write this post. In fact, for the past two weeks I have been hiding from God. Like Jonah fleeing from his mission to Nineveh, I have been desperately leaping aboard any ship that may distract me from plumbing the depths of this issue. And, also like Jonah, I have been swallowed up. Not by a whale, mind you, but that behemoth called depression. Like the stomach acids of that famed sea mammal, this depression eats into my mind and gives me no rest. Why this is so difficult for me has been a large part of my despondency and I will address that in a bit.
This is the final part in my short series regarding the words we speak. If you missed the other parts, you can read Words: The Heart’s Mirror here, and Words: The Effects of Verbal Vomit here. Now, on with our regular programming…
As I’ve been exploring this topic, I am seeing that it isn’t enough to guard the words that come from my lips, although that is important. But to simply leave it at that is to slap a band aid on a slashed artery. The well spring of my words is my heart, yes—but there is a middle man I have yet to address. My mind.
I live with a heart renewed by Jesus Christ. I must allow my heart to filter my speech. But if I am not conscious of what I am feeding my middle man, filtering my speech will be a constant struggle and I end up not being all that different from any one else on the planet.
“…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8, NLT)
A steady diet of healthy input to the middle man is needed to keep my heart’s filter working optimally. Everything I allow into my consciousness will affect this: my conversations, my choice of entertainment, music. If I am not filling my mind with the words of Christ, with thoughts that are excellent and praiseworthy, then my filter breaks down and my words betray me.
Now this is not just an ABC formula: read your bible, don’t swear, listen exclusively to Christian music, and don’t watch R rated shows. Setting some parameters is good, but legalism and pride can so easily creep in and blind us. I’m thinking deeper. Those musings that we allow to run rampant in our minds, though we’d never dream speak them. Negative thoughts allowed free range, growing and becoming bloated. Left unchecked, they fester like a boil until the vileness seeps out in other areas of our speaking. Thoughts not taken captive unto the obedience of Christ will degrade our heart’s filter just as much as a steady diet of foul and violent entertainment.
And herein lies my reluctance to write this. How can I tell all of you to be mindful of your words, to perpetually renew your heart with God’s Word, and reign in your thought life when mine is currently in shambles? My middle man has been gorging on unhealthy fare. My time in scripture has been minimal. I obsess on my critical thoughts of others. My inner critic has been resurrected in full violent force and is gleefully wreaking havoc in my mind. My middle man has grown fat and complacent. He sits there stuffing himself with junk food and belching vile words from my lips. And it is entirely my fault. I am the one choosing to feed him these things.
By confessing this, I must commit to change. To repent. A word that sends shudders of disgust up the spine of the unbeliever. What an archaic expression. Even as a Christ-follower the word rankles my rebellious nature. But I know that it simply means to turn. To turn from what I am doing that is negatively affecting my relationship with the Lover of my soul. To actually put His words into practice and become different than the average bear.
I want the filtering process to be so easy that I no longer have to think about it. I want the struggle to end. I want my words to bring healing, promote instruction, and be like a gift to the receiver.
I believe it’s time for my middle man to go on a diet. How about yours?
“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” (Proverbs 15:14, NLT)