Series: Momma Said. . .
Lesson for the Week of May 5–11, 2021
AIM: After studying this lesson, students will know that what they say reveals a deeper heart issue of sin that is infecting, and effecting their life, their decisions, and their relationships. They will be challenged to take steps to change what comes out of their mouth. Our mouths make a far greater difference and reveal a lot more than most of us realize.
During a routine medical examination, your primary physician is likely to ask you to open your mouth, stick out your tongue, and say “ahh.” When they ask you to open your mouth and stick out your tongue, they are not merely looking for something wrong in your mouth. Rather, they understand that the condition of your mouth can indicate problems that go much deeper.
They look in your mouth because it can sometimes indicate an infection elsewhere. It can sometimes indicate disease. Often it will indicate certain vitamin deficiencies. Simply by looking in your mouth, your doctor can determine whether something is wrong with you on a much deeper level.
Similarly, what comes out of your mouth matters much more than you think. What you say can reveal a deeper heart issue of sin that is infecting your life, decisions, and relationships. That is why this subject is so critical for the body of Christ to examine. Momma was right when she said. . .Watch Your Mouth!
Christ uses an illustration of a tree to reveal the source of our speech. He reminds us that a good tree will produce good fruit and a bad tree will produce bad fruit. If the fruit of a tree is good, you can assume the tree is also good. If the fruit of the tree is bad, the tree itself is bad.
Matthew 12:33-37 (GNT)
33 “To have good fruit you must have a healthy tree; if you have a poor tree, you will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it bears.
34 You snakes—how can you say good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
35 A good person brings good things out of a treasure of good things; a bad person brings bad things out of a treasure of bad things.
36 “You can be sure that on the Judgment Day you will have to give account of every useless word you have ever spoken.
37 Your words will be used to judge you—to declare you either innocent or guilty.”
- The Seriousness of Speech
Christ uses an illustration of a tree to reveal the source of our speech:
- Your heart is like the tree.
- Your words are like the fruit of that tree.
Jesus is telling us that the fruit of our mouths – our words – will always reflect what is already in our hearts. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (verse 34). So…
- If you have profane speech, it is because you have a profane heart.
- If you gossip, you have a gossip’s heart.
- If you slander, you have a slanderer’s heart.
- Our words will always reflect what is already in our hearts!
Luke 6:45 (CSB) – A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.
Matthew 15:17-20 (CSB) – 17 “Don’t you realize that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slander. 20 These are the things that defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a person.”
- What’s That in Your Heart?
The heart defiles you when its contents pass through your mouth. . .
- Ugly, unholy words
All these things proceed from the heart and out through the mouth.
In 1866, one invention changed the world forever. That was the year Alfred Nobel developed the first safe but powerful explosive – dynamite! Until that time, people used either gunpower or nitroglycerin to build roads or do any other construction project that required an explosive. Nobel’s dynamite improved life and society on many levels. But on the other hand, it also brought destruction. Dynamite quickly became an accurate and deadly force as a weapon of war. Dynamite is a powerful thing. It can be used to bring people together to get work done, or it can be used to blow people apart. It can help make life better, or it can ruin someone’s life altogether. It is a powerful tool that can give life and take it.
We all have a similar power within ourselves. We have access to something so strong – for good or for evil – that we bring life or death into situations on a regular basis!
Point to Ponder: How is the mouth like dynamite?
- The mouth has the power to destroy anything in its path.
- The muscle in the mouth is no small thing.
- Some couples have gotten divorced because of the sticks of dynamite that continue to blow up their relationship.
- Some people have not spoken to members of their family for years because the blast was so big and the pain was so deep, they have not been able to recover from it.
James 3:1-12 (NLT)
1 Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. 3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
James immediately gives a strong warning to teachers – we face a higher level of accountability anytime we bring God and His name into the conversation! Those who give spiritual instruction to others whether formally or informally, “will receive a stricter judgment.”
After James’ initial warning, he continues his lesson about our lips by establishing three unique points regarding the mouth, high lighting its power to:
- Direct life
- Damage life
- Determined life
A ship was sailing at night when it received a radio message. The message was simple yet clear: “Turn south immediately. I am directly in front of you.” The captain of the ship did not want to turn south in the middle of the night or make any other changes to his ship’s course, so he replied, “I am a Navy captain. You turn north.” The captain waited briefly and then received another message. “You are headed straight toward me. Turn south now. I will not turn north.” The captain was irritated because this conversation was going on so long and also because the other person was not respecting his authority. So, he replied, “This is my final statement. I am a Navy captain. I will not turn south. You will turn north.” He barely had time to send his message before he received an adamant reply. “You will turn south, I am a lighthouse.”
Sisters and brothers, regardless of who you are or what ship you are steering, the lighthouse will never adjust to you! It does not matter how powerful a person think they are (you know, like 45 thought he was all powerful! ugh), how much education you have, or what successes you have had. If you are a ship in conflict with a lighthouse, the light-house will win every single time!!! Unfortunately, many of us do not understand that. We believe we are setting our own course and making our own decisions, and we expect everything else to adjust to us – including God. But if you and God are not seeing things the same way, you must adjust to Him. God will never adjust to you! Many of us like to dictate to God where we want Him to go and what we want Him to do, forgetting that He is the lighthouse and we are not.
Matthew 16:21-23 (CSB)
21 From then on Jesus began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”
The above three verses are of great significance to how quickly we can allow our mouth, our tongue to get in our way. Peter begins by using what we (or I do anyway) call “Christianese.” He calls Christ “Lord,” indicating that he is trying to think. . .
And yet despite his best attempts at seeking to shield and protect Jesus, when he finishes talking, Jesus refers to him as the devil! Evidently you can use the word “Lord” and yet be talking straight from the devil!
Now read verses 15-17 from the same chapter.
Matthew 16:15-17 (CSB)
15 “But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus responded, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven.
When Peter agreed with God, Jesus told him he was blessed (Matthew 16:17). When he spoke out of sync with God’s will, he became a mouthpiece for hell. Why? Because he revealed a heart that lacked faith in what God said to be true.
When you come to understand that your words have the power to invite either God or Satan into a conversation, you will want to watch your mouth. Satan loves to create a conflict of interests between our will and God’s will.
Notice verse 24 just after Jesus rebukes Peter, He says, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.”
- To make Christ Lord of your lips, you will have to deny your soul’s desire to have its way in what you say.
- When God sees your pride, He backs away from you.
- When God hears your praise to Him on Sunday but notices you don’t seem to need Him on Monday, He backs off.
In the Book of James, we find one of the most potent passages on the tongue and God’s view of how we often use it.
James 4:13-16 (CSB)
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
What is the problem here? What is wrong with our thinking?
When we don’t leave room for God to interrupt our plans, we set ourselves up to be sorely disappointed because He definitely will. . .
There is no such thing as planning independently of God because He is the One who controls the outcome.
Progress in The Journey. . .
Survey Your Speech
After talking about the source of our speech, which is the heart, Jesus goes on to say, “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Essentially, God has put a wiretap on your mouth and is listening to every word you say. In addition, every careless word is being noted. Every useless, evil, unrighteous, and untrue word will be accounted for on the day of judgment. That is enough to make me want to not say much of anything at all! When you stand before the judgment seat of Christ to gain or lose rewards, your words will either work for you (you will be acquitted) or against you (you will be condemned). That judgment day is not the judgment that determines your eternal salvation. This is a separate judgment, when God determines the rewards and responsibilities He will give you or take from you in heaven.
We have seen in this lesson that what comes out of our mouth actually reflect what is in our heart.
- If you saw a stagnant pond with green slim floating on top, would you be willing to drink from it? Why or why not?
- In what ways can an impure heart contaminate the person’s life and the lives of those who are impacted by the person’s words?
- What is the purpose of salt?
- Based on Colossians 4:6, why does God ask us to have our speech seasoned with salt?
- Based on Proverbs 15:1, what are the results of a gentle answer and a harsh tongue? How do these results differ?
- We often have difficulty changing what we say because our thoughts are so ingrained. Sometimes this is referred to as “negative self-talk.” Negative self-talk can lead to negativity in every area of your life.
- Identify some ways your negative self-talk has shown up in your speech.
- What can you do to be less hard toward yourself in these areas and change your negative self-talk before it shows up in your speech?
- Can you identify some ways that you can turn these negative patterns of speech into positive ones?
- Constant complaining
- Talking about others
- Idle talk
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Continually seek God’s guidance so that your speech and your actions are congruent.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: Be a source of encouragement to those with a spiritually diseased heart so that healing may take place.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Share with others how Christ has made a difference in your life based on His actions on the cross.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Your giving should be a reflection of your thankful heart.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: When you’re about to speak harshly to someone, think about how it will be received if those words would be delivered to you in the same manner; when in doubt, show mercy.
NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: God Don’t Like Ugly (Murder, She Wrote)
SERIES: Momma Said