Using some personal experiences, Derek illustrates what Jesus had to say about the origin of our words, establishing a direct connection between the mouth and the heart. From the Song of Solomon, we see prophetic pictures of Jesus and His bride portrayed with grace and beauty on their tongues and lips.
It’s good to be with you again.
The title for my theme this week takes the form of a question: Does Your Tongue Need Healing?
Perhaps I can make this question more relevant to you by an illustration from my experiences as a hospital attendant with the British Army in North Africa during World War II. I was with a small medical unit that was attached to an armored division and often we were kind of following up behind the tanks out there in the desert. And at one time, I was appointed the NCO in charge of a small reception station right out in the desert that catered only for dysentery patients, and let me say, caring for dysentery patients in a desert where there’s virtually no water poses some unique problems but I will not go into that just now in my talk today.
Each morning the doctor, under whom I worked, would summon me and we’d go round our patients who were all lying there on stretchers on the sand, and notice that every morning the doctor always started with the same two opening sentences. The first one was, “Good morning, how are you?” The second one was, “Show me your tongue.” And it wasn’t long before I realized that the doctor paid very little attention to the answer to his question, “How are you?” He always moved on immediately to the next question, “Show me your tongue.” And when the patient stuck his tongue out, the doctor looked very carefully at that and he formed his estimate of the patient’s condition, much more from looking at his tongue than from the answer that the patient actually gave to the question, “How are you?” And that always stuck with me, and later on as I moved on in the things of God and came into the ministry, many times it occurred to me that God does much the same with us as the doctor with his patients. God may ask us, “How are you?” and we may give him our estimate of our condition, but I think the next thing that God says, metaphorically is, “Show me your tongue.” And when God looks at our tongue, then He forms His own estimate of our true spiritual condition. You see, the state of your tongue is a very sure guide to your spiritual condition.
Now, let’s apply that out of Scripture. There are many passages in Scripture which establish this same principle. There is a direct connection between the heart and the mouth. Jesus states that in Matthew, chapter 12, verses 33 through 37.
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree rotten, and its fruit rotten; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, [He’s speaking to the religious leaders of His time] You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.” (NASB)
Jesus there establishes the direct connection between the mouth and the heart. He uses parabolic language. He refers to the heart as the tree and to the words that come out of the mouth as the fruit. And He says whatever the condition of your heart is, that will be the kind of words that will come out of your mouth. He says, for instance, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good words; an evil man, out of the evil treasure in his heart brings forth evil words.” You’ll notice, it’s the same all the way through. Three times Jesus uses the word “good;” three times Jesus uses the word, “evil.” If the heart is good, then out of the mouth will come words that are good. But if the heart is evil, then out of the mouth will come words that are evil.
And then Jesus says in similar language, in Matthew 7, verses 17 and 18:
“Every good tree bears good fruit; but the rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit.” (NASB)
So the nature of the tree inevitably determines the kind of fruit. Conversely, when we see the kind of fruit, we know the nature of the tree. So, the tree is the heart; the fruit is the mouth. If the heart is good, the words that come out of the mouth will be good. But if the words that come out of the mouth are evil, then we know that the heart is evil. You cannot have bad fruit from a good tree, nor can you have good fruit from a bad tree. So there’s an absolute, inescapable connection between the state of our heart and the state of our mouth. We may deceive ourselves about the state of our heart. We may have all sorts of ideas about our own goodness or purity or righteousness, but the sure and unfailing indicator is that which comes out of our mouth. If that which comes out of our mouth is corrupt, then the state of our heart is corrupt. There cannot be any other conclusion.
I worked for five years in educational work in East Africa. And one of the tribes that I worked with there in Kenya was known as the Marigoli Tribe. And I took a little time to study just some basic parts of their language and one of the things that amazed me about that language was that the same word in that language meant “heart” and “voice.” And I used to ponder this and think, how do we know which the person means? Does he mean your heart or your voice? But as I pondered it, I began to see that there was real insight in that particular use of language. That really, your voice is what indicates your heart. Your voice tells us with the words that it speaks what is the condition of your heart. So, it’s just saying in that particular way the same that Jesus says, “You cannot have bad words out of a good heart. You cannot have good words out of a bad heart.” So you see, when we come to God, with our estimate of our own spiritual condition, I think God is rather prone to respond just the way that doctor did with the dysentery patients in the desert. You say, “God, I’m a real good Christian, I really love you, I go to church, I do this and I do that.” God says, “Show me your tongue. When I’ve seen your tongue, I’ll know the real condition of your heart.”
And I want to illustrate this now in a rather dramatic way by taking two pictures from the Old Testament—two prophetic pictures—first of Christ Himself, the Messiah; and second, of the bride of Christ, the Church. And I want you to notice that in each case, in the picture of Christ, and in the picture of the Church, the feature which is emphasized first and foremost is the condition of the lips and the mouth. Psalm 45, verses 1 and 2 gives us a beautiful, prophetic picture of the Messiah.
“My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. [And then this is the words that the writer addresses to the king, to the Messiah:] Thou art fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon thy lips; therefore God has blessed Thee forever.” (NASB)
Here’s the picture of the Messiah in His grace, his beauty, his moral purity and beauty. What’s the first aspect of that beauty that is manifested? It’s His lips. “Grace,” it says, “is poured upon thy lips.” And then it says, “Therefore God has blessed Thee forever.” Two very important principles: first of all, the grace of the Messiah is manifested primarily in His lips. Secondly, for this reason, God has blessed Him forever because of the grace of His lips. You remember, when He appeared in human form and men were sent to arrest Him, they came back without Him and they said, “Why didn’t you bring Him?” Do you remember their answer? “No man ever spoke like this man.” That was the grace that was poured in His lips that marked Him out as the Messiah.
And then let’s look at two beautiful pictures closely together of the bride of Christ in the Song of Solomon, which is the prophetic picture of Christ and His bride and the relationship between them. The Song of Solomon, chapter 4, verse 3, addressed to the bride:
“Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate behind your veil.” (NASB)
Notice the first feature of the bride is her lips, “They’re like a scarlet thread; your mouth is lovely.” The word “scarlet” there indicates sanctification through the blood of Jesus. The lips have been touched by the blood. And as a result, the mouth is lovely. And notice that the face is hidden behind a veil, “Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate but they’re behind a veil.” But the voice is heard through the veil. So the other beauties are veiled, but the beauty of the voice comes out through the veil. That’s the thing that is most manifested. And then in the same chapter, the Song of Solomon, chapter 4, verse 11:
“Your lips, my bride, drip honey: honey and milk are under your tongue, and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.” (NASB)
Notice the two distinctive words used of the tongue of the bride, “honey and milk,” which are the two distinctive features of the Promised Land. So the beauty of the Promised Land is seen in the bride, and especially in her tongue and in her lips. And then notice, that there’s a fragrance associated with these beautiful lips that penetrates the veil. Again, the clear form of the bride is not seen behind the veil but her voice and her fragrance penetrate the veil and this is due to the beauty of her lips. Her lips are like a thread of scarlet and her mouth is lovely.
Is that true of you and me as followers of Jesus? We need to ask ourselves that question.
Well our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme: Does Your Tongue Need Healing? Tomorrow I’ll be showing you the Bible’s Picture of the Tongue.