Covid-19 Devotionals

A Reflection on Language

Our children in Naperville, Illinois, drove to Indianapolis in Indiana yesterday for a three day get-away. Whilst they were driving, we did a FaceTime call with them. It’s wonderful to think that we are able to talk to others so far away as they travel. During the conversation, we changed language from English to Afrikaans because the things discussed were matters only Roy, Angela, Jenny and I are privy to. Their sons, Nathan and Luke, cannot speak Afrikaans. Today on my walk, I thought about my Afrikaans in that discussion. It was not very good, but this led me into thinking about languages and how we use language and words. Jesus said:

Mt 15:18 “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’” …

He was dealing with Peter’s question relating to an interaction with the Pharisees. To the crowds, He had said:

Mt 15:11 “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’”

Why is it that what comes out of the mouth makes one unclean? The context was that the Pharisees complained about Jesus’ disciples eating without washing their hands. To this, Jesus says that whatever you eat does not make you “unclean” … unholy … sinful … because whatever you eat passes through the stomach and then out of the body. What makes one “unclean” … unholy … sinful … arises when one spews filth out of the mouth … the context is letting sin flow from the mouth. Our Lord informs us that the evil in the heart causes sinful emotions (unclean thoughts followed by unclean language) to flow …

Mt 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

What you fill the heart with comes out in some way or the other!

It’s tremendous to think that we have around 7,117 languages in the world, with about 40% endangered with only 23 languages spoken by half the world’s population. All languages have their difficulties and many are evolving, yet each has beauty. Mostly, language helps people to communicate and makes people get known and get to know others. There are many ways to communicate: softly, lovingly, for clarity and instruction, or in anger or with hatred, malice and slander. Whatever you feed your heart with will flow out of your heart! Who you listen to; what you read and what you watch on TV (and in movies) will cause you to think about these things. Without you even realizing it, whatever fills your heart will come out of your heart when your emotions are stretched. It could be praise, love, gentleness or kindness … but at the same time it could be explosive … anger, rage, hurtfulness or slander.

We use language to speak to each other. What is important for us to remember is that we are Christian. For the Christian, Jesus must live and reign in the heart. Even to a more spiritual mature church, Paul writes to the Ephesians, saying:

Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

In the later 80s, I did an officers’ course as a volunteer chaplain in the military. Get the picture … we were all ordained clergy, delegated from our denominations. One starts telling a joke and the punch line includes a filthy four letter word. I walked away in dismay. Before a road race one Saturday morning, the chairman of our Christian running club told a joke after we prayed. The punch line was the same. Again I turned away in dismay. Just think of it … that “people of God” can use such filth! What was in their heart came out of their mouths! So, when we fill our hearts with the things of Jesus … such as Scripture, good reading, Christian conversations, etc., we will not be like the Ephesians, whom Paul warned:

Eph 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

See the filling of the heart (v18) will result in the healthy overflow of the heart (v19-20).

We use language to speak the Gospel to the lost. One of the tragedies in evangelism is that many tend to know the Gospel and can present the Gospel very well, but because they are caught up in some sort of sin or the other their labour is often “useless”, because God only uses ‘clean vessels’. Did you notice that when the Holy Spirit arrived in Acts 2, the apostles were ready … conditioned for the reception of His power? All too often, we skirt with sin and vulgarity to the point that when we evangelise there is little or no fruit. We need to be ready and conditioned by the Spirit to be used effectively for winning souls for Jesus.

We use language to speak to God in various types of prayer and praise. There are many Scriptures such as Psalms 8:1 or 80:19:

Ps 8:1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Ps 80:19 Restore us, O LORD God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

O Lord, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).” For Christ’s sake, Amen.

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