What do you mean?

This morning I was listening to the Bible on my way to the gym (thanks to The Bible app).

A phrase jumped out at me that I can’t quit thinking about:

“It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words.” (Matthew 12:34 MSG)

Here in the south we joke about one of our common phrases…


Taken literally, these words (“bless your heart”) sound nice… but the heart of the speaker is something completely different.

Another example…

A few years ago I was talking with the leader of a Bible college and referred to his “minions.” I didn’t mean it harshly. I meant to refer to the people who were in his theological camp and would count him as a leader.

He took it differently! In his mind, my use of the word “minion” was a pejorative and unkind reference to his friends.

We talked about it and cleared it up… but only after he rebuked me and I blushingly looked up the meaning of the word!

In both of these instances we have words that take their shape from the meaning intended in the heart; one sounds nice but is meant to be mean, the other sounded mean but was meant to be nice.

Jesus had a caution for those who speak (that’s all of us):

“Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” (Matthew 12:36-37 MSG)

As I reflect on these words from Jesus, I am praying that God will fill my heart with love for people, and my mouth with words that give life to everyone with whom I come in contact.

Today I am reflecting on these words from Jesus, and this sentence from Solomon:

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).

What will you do with your words today? Destroy or give birth to hope and life?

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