The Established Heart 11 - The Tongue - David Mitts
Last chapter we spoke about honor and the importance of first love as expressed in the moment of honor. Honor, “kaved” in Hebrew, means weightiness. It is a declaration of the significance of someone or something in our lives. The “first” or first love is a statement of priority as well as time position. It reminds us of the time when love was most tender and captivating of our entire heart or as much as we were capable of giving. The first love of our lives so entailed us with the allure of the one to who we gave our heart that it shifted all of our priorities. At the same time, the love brought with it honor.
Honor is revealed in how we hold another in our heart. Last chapter we looked at how familiarity can rob us of honor in our heart and cause us to take for granted the person we once honored. This brings death to our relationships and causes us to have our love grow cold. Familiarity is losing the “wow” in our lives and is a normal process of learning to accommodate and yet in the realm of the spirit, it brings death to the glory.
Over the years, I have seen revival come and go and I am convinced what grieves the Spirit of God is familiarity. When we become used to God and stop treating Him with honor, kavod, His Kavod, departs.
When God established Israel in their inheritance He warned about this through Moses:
"Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons." Deuteronomy 4:9
Let’s unpack this a bit. First, we are responsible for our soul. In the biblical ancient Hebraic view we are a system of systems. Our organs are experienced as the seat of thoughts, the heart, emotions, the kidneys, intuition, the stomach. The breath is our character, what makes us who we are. Our soul is our composite being. Our soul is not some ephemeral disembodied aspect of us but is our whole body-mind-spirit.
When the Lord tells us, through Moses, to keep our soul with diligence, He is holding us responsible for our thoughts, words, and deeds. He is speaking to being responsible for how we see life, how we remember it, and how we speak about it.
Take a step back in time with me to a simpler life where the community gathered in the evening around the pillar of fire in the camp. Call that a fire pit. This is where the telling would begin. There was no internet or even paperback books. The community gathered and someone would begin to speak. What would they talk about? They would tell the stories of the community, what we call the testimony.
In the community of Israel, the people of God would tell the story of who God is and how He met with them through Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob. They had no written bible so, they gathered and listened to the elders tell the stories. Any good storyteller will tell you that the key to a good story is well-developed and living characters. The most developed and living character in the stories of Israel was God Himself.
So God speaks through Moses and tells Israel to “give heed to yourself and to keep or guard their soul diligently”. The actual Hebrew for “give heed” and “keep” is the same word shomer. This is active protection of something valuable. Since it is used twice, it is used that way for a double emphasis. It isn’t saying to do two things but saying this is doubly important.
This is paralleled with the double portion anointing of the firstborn. The first of a thing is doubly important. So it is with first love, etc. Our soul diligence is where our new birth reality has to be most evident. The danger here is forgetting.
Forgetting in Hebrew is the “shachact”. It is the word picture of misplacing something. As a person who gets into deep thoughts, I often misplace things. I have had to train myself to develop locations specific to things that are essential to me. My keys have a place, my wallet as well. Then I had to force myself to develop routines when I arrived home to put things in their place or I would forget where they were and lose access to them until I found them.
Apparently, this tendency to forget or misplace things is especially dangerous to our walk with God. He warns us not to misplace Him but to be diligent with our soul. The word translated as diligent, meod, actually means to do something in a great way or in a way that reflects the fire of God. The idea I like to bring to this is to be intentional. When we set our heart upon an objective, we become intentional. In my practice as an acupuncturist, I have to treat with clear intent. I can’t just hope something will happen. I have to purpose in my heart and align myself to that intent.
The Lord is telling us to be intentional in our walk with Him. The method is summed up as:
Making known to our sons and grandsons the stories of the Lord. This is telling us that there is power in speaking, in testimony. Our tongue contains the power of life.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21
We need to be intentional in our speaking.
"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:29-30
The Holy Spirit of God, the power of creation itself responds to what we say. God who is the source of grace in the universe tells us to use our words to bring grace to those who hear. Take a moment and reflect on that statement. Then He goes a step further and cautions us that His Spirit, the breath of life has feelings that can be grieved by our speaking. What is this reality that He has allowed us to glimpse? How can we, created mortal beings of flesh and blood have anything to say that could actually bring Him grief?
As I reflect on that I can hear the perplexed cry of the psalmist who queries: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?" Psalms 8:4
I began to realize that God has truly released to us the power of the tongue and it is a creative force of good or evil.
"Now the goal is that all of you be of one mind, sympathizing, loving the brethren, compassionate and friendly; Not rendering evil for evil, or abuse for abuse, but instead a blessing, knowing that you were called to this: that you should inherit a blessing. For the one who desires to love life, and to see good days, let him restrain his own tongue from evil, and not allow his lips to speak deceit. Let him avoid evil, and let him continually practice good. Let him seek peace, and let him earnestly pursue it because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their supplications. But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil." 1 Peter 3:8-12
The ears of the Lord are open to our supplications. We are called to be a source of the blessing of edification. We hold our destiny in our own mouths. If we bless, we are blessed. If we love life and want to see good days, then we restrain our own tongue from evil and not allow our lips to speak deceitfully. The Lord is watching us to see how we treat one another. Do we pursue peace? Are we peacemakers?
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." Matthew 5:9
Our sonship, our inheritance is in our speech.
Our speech reveals who we are on the inside. Our words and how we use them towards others tell the story of our life. It matters little to the Lord what our actual story is. What matters to Him is our redemption story, our testimony.
This is the place where God has met with us and given us our Abraham moment where our Issac, our destiny is birthed in His word-seed.
This is our campfire story to add to the testimony of God’s people. He takes the death-story of this world and transforms it into a new story of life, love, and healing. He takes the hardness of our stony heart and breaks it up to be a tender, compassionate heart of grace.
"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26
Like Medusa, the Gorgon of Greek mythology, looking at the face of this death-inspired world turns our hearts into hard, self-protective, and deceit-infested places of misery. God restores us through salvation to become feeling and tender loving children of grace.
The stone heart melts away and we have the opportunity to be truly human, full of mistakes and failures but chosen by a loving God to rewrite the conversation of our hearts, the reality of who we consider ourselves to be. Now we can truly become a family, a people, a kingdom of God. In this place of extreme vulnerability, we speak words of life and edification and learn to be builders of men and women. In this place, we finally learn the meaning of:
"And everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29
You finally can see that it was never about the individuals in our lives but about how we knew them and what we said in that knowing. When Yeshua speaks about leaving family or lands, He is speaking about a system of relationships and assignments that the world has assigned to us. This is a place of the stony heart. This is a territory of death. He is there to bring a new story, one of love, hope, and forgiveness. The doorway he offers to us is the Word. In His case, He is the Word made flesh. He leaves Himself as the Word in His death. Through His death, He releases the claim of the system of Law against us. He forgives us.
He then gives us the responsibility to be agents of this same forgiveness. We do this through how we treat people, especially through our words. We have the opportunity to be intentional with our words in them His life is made real. This is called our testimony, the story of our life. We will either use our words for healing, in a manner of Him who is the Word or, we will use our words to bring judgment and accusation like the prince of this world.
"And I heard a great voice in heaven say, "Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ because the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they overcame him through the blood of the Lamb, and through the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death." Revelation 12:10-11
The choice is ours, death or life!
Activation: Conscious Intentional Speech: