The first of our readings today is from the Apocrypha and answers the question of how to tell a person by their fruit. It states:
A Kiln is a very hot fiery oven where the clay objects, pots, vases, urns, bowls, cups etc. are fired to turn them into beautiful, valuable china. Sirach tells us that the test of a person is in his conversation – but I would say this is especially conversation when under fire, when dealing with the stresses, tests and trials that life hands us. Some of these are daily.
In writing this I personally cringe. This is a serious “ouch” for some personalities (particularly my own). I identify greatly with St Peter in the fact that both of us have a big mouth that happily fits a large foot, on a regular basis. God uses our big mouths often for his glory, but it doesn’t change the fact that I struggle with knowing that I talk too much and too loudly and that unless I am consciously thinking about it I often tend to talk over the top of people. I also could not control my tongue with one particular person, and found myself constantly yelling at him on a daily basis. I hated the way it made me feel about myself and often in despair, my knees would hit the carpet to repent and pray for help, because I couldn’t seem to help myself.
It’s not just me; the Bible says the tongue is the most unruly member of the body. Yet this is the biggest test of all. It is not just in the Apocrypha because Jesus said:
It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” – Matthew 15:11(NRSV)
The Living Bible makes it really clear.
You aren’t made unholy by eating non-kosher food! It is what you say and think that makes you unclean.” – Matthew 15:11 (TLB)
They are correct in adding the “and think” because your words are an expression of what is truly in your heart and your head unless you are lying. But God sees your heart and knows your thoughts, you can’t lie to Him.
There is an old saying, “You can’t stop the birds flying over your head, but you don’t have to let them nest in your hair”. Meaning that you can’t always expect to control your thoughts but you don’t have to let the bad stuff out of your mouth. Plus you don’t have to dwell on bad ones, rebuke the source of the evil thinking, and think positively, think about what is good, pure and worthy of thinking about.
Upset and angry, wrong thinking from anger, frustration or worry running through your head, deal with it immediately, talk it over with God, repent of worry, because it is lack of trust in Him and tell Him how you are feeling – seek his face till you find his peace. I am working on taking a deep breath and silently praying before I open my mouth when I am annoyed or frustrated, I think my answer is to develop a new habit, “quickly seek before I speak”.