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The Overflow of the Heart

The Overflow of the Heart

Words of Faith 5-7-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 6

   [43] "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. [44] Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. [45] The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

       Jesus was the master teacher. Referring to the local vegetation and the common experiences of the people, He revealed a basic truth about people, life and character. What you say really is important. The words that come from our mouths really do matter.

       The example was from the fruit of the land. From a distance the little black berries on the buckthorn could be mistaken for grapes, and the flowers on certain thistles might deceive one into thinking figs were growing. But no one would be long deceived. When you get close and see the fruit it is clear that a thornbush is a thornbush and a brier is a brier.

       So it is with people! One's "fruit"--not just what one does, but all one says and does--will ultimately reveal what one is. The Semitic form of expression is to state both the positive and negative "every good tree bears good fruit, no good tree bears bad fruit".

       The test is not necessarily easy or quick. Living according to kingdom norms can be feigned for a time but what one is will eventually reveal itself in what one does. However guarded one's words, they will finally betray him.

       Jesus' point was that a man's words will eventually tell what kind of man he is. Just as people know the kind of tree by the fruit it bears, so people know from what a person says whether he is righteous or not. In this case fruit stands for what is said, not what is done: out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

       We are often fond of pointing out that actions speak louder than words and that talk is cheap. But here Jesus points out the fact that words are very important. The mouth is quite revealing as to the condition of the heart even if one has actions that appear holy.

       So are actions unimportant? Not at all. In fact, at a different time, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:15-20), Jesus made a similar teaching that was specifically directed to false prophets. In that teaching, Jesus seemed to emphasize actions over words. False prophets may come with words that sound great, but they are ferocious wolves in sheep's clothing. The fruit of their life will allow you to recognize them.

       Here on the Plain, the focus was on words. Words will eventually slip. They reveal the heart. They tell us a lot about others but even more about ourselves. If we listen carefully to our own words we can learn a great deal about our own heart condition. James put it this way: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water" (James 3:9-12).

       Sometimes, folks get the idea that hard work and devotion in the church gives them the right to speak badly of others. There is no "gift of criticism" among the gifts of the Spirit. Gossip and backbiting are listed among the most heinous of sins. Jesus called us to "bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:28).  

       Paul called believers to "speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" (Ephes. 5:19) and also to "bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Romans 12:14). Paul walked that out saying, "We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it" (1 Cor. 4:12).

         How are your words these day? If you replay the tapes of the week, do you find yourself listening to praise toward God and then vicious gossip coming from the same mouth? The same heart? Do you hear blessings toward some and then curses toward others? Or maybe even curses toward the same ones? It is not just a matter of better or tighter control. Jesus says it is a matter of the heart and only Jesus can deal with heart problems.


         Father God, I want my words to completely honor You. I want to speak blessing into the lives of those around me. Forgive me for the unclean words, the words of harsh criticism, the curses and the gossip. Fill my heart with Your grace and peace so that it will overflow with blessing toward others.