Trash Talk: Thoughts, Words, and the Bible
Thoughts and words are the currency of the spirit

Joseph asks: There is soo much written on the topic of the tongue and the heart and i believe it is amazing and beautiful how the Bible speaks of both. Literally all over the place: Ephesians 4:29, Matthew 15:11, Psalm 19:14, Proverbs 10:20-21, Psalm 141:3, Proverbs 18:21, Matthew 12:34, Proverbs 4:23, Luke 6:45. The Book of James. You get what i'm saying. But when it comes to certain people they always say it is not the words but the intent or meaning behind the word they use. For instance if they said the F*** word ... if they said Fudge instead, the reason for both words is still the same. Yet that somehow justifies the reasoning for the first word. Or the B**** word. If you call someone that word then its offensive. Yet girls call each other that word and it means nothing. I don't know how i am to help someone with this being the reasoning behind their words. When speaking to my brother or even certain friends who are older than me, random people have used this rebuttal and i've even been around Christians who i haven't said anything to. But it kinda bothers me when i notice words like these pour for their mouth, yet i have no idea what to truly say to them when they say this. It does make sense but at the same time i still feel that their justification is truly wrong.
Question about A Personal Question: My social activities
Motivation - Curiosity: Idle curiosity; Curiosity: General interest; Curiosity: Sincere curiosity; Curiosity: Discussion with friends; Guidance: Looking for a solution
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 199, Friday, 19-Jun-2015]

gossip

Joseph is concerned that many of his friends use words too loosely. He knows the Bible puts plenty of emphasis on our words. It bothers him that some people dismiss their words with 'I am only kidding' or 'I do not really mean it.' What does the Bible say about this? How should we respond to people who use words loosely? Joseph asks a good question, and a deep one from a spiritual viewpoint.

Bible Currency

What, precisely, is currency? According to the dictionary, currency is 'something that is used as a medium of exchange; money.' Currency enables financial transactions, business, and commerce as we know it. But, currency itself is not limited to matters of finance. Other disciplines use other currencies to support transactions, for instance:

  • The currency of mathematics is numbers
  • The currency of history is world events
  • The currency of science is experimentation
  • The currency of music is notes
  • The currency of politics is persuasion
  • The currency of religion is rituals
  • The currency of human relationships is words
  • The currency of spirituality is thoughts

The Bible is not a book about finances, mathematics, history, science, music, politics, or religion, but it is a book about human relationships and spirituality. So the Bible has much to say about words and thoughts. The question, then, boils down to:

What are the biblical principles related to our words and our thoughts? How can we apply these principles to our daily lives?

A Simple Model for Human Beings - Consider for a moment the simple graphic below. It shows a distinction between mankind and the animals. God created both, but He created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:27), and the primary manifestation of His image appears in our remarkable ability to think and speak.

Man is made in the image of God
Our ability to think and speak separates mankind from the animals. We are made in the Image of God (Genesis 1:27)

Humans Are More than Animals - While many people will argue that animals can think and speak, none can think and speak to the extent of men and women. Attributes such as wisdom, compassion, truthfulness, faithfulness, love, abstract reasoning, mercy, acting counter to instinct, use of tools, written communication, pursuit of happiness, righteousness, creativity, burying of dead, wrath, free will, art, music, humor, morality, rationality, trade, and a sense of beauty are 'supernatural' attributes that do not occur in animals, only in mankind.

Without the image of God (thoughts and words), our response would be like the response of animals: sensing our surroundings and taking appropriate action. But, with God's image built into every man and woman, we can modify our awareness, and therefore our actions. Further, we can affect the people around us by talking to them. It is quite remarkable. Modern science has yet to explain the natural elements of animal consciousness, and is dismally distant from explaining the supernatural elements of human rationality and spoken communication.

Notice in our diagram that our thoughts are the currency (the medium of exchange) we use in our relationship with God, and our words are the currency we use in inter-personal relationships. Although Bible reading is the primary means of listening to God (through awareness), on rare occasions God deposits His thoughts directly into ours. Likewise, silent or spoken prayer is our primary means of speaking to God.

Bible Examples - In the verse below, the woman's thoughts (she said within herself) motivate spiritual action. The Lord's response is a physical miracle, the direct result of spiritual communication.

And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
- Matthew 9:20ff [KJV]

Requester Joseph cites a Pslams reference that concisely reveals the two components of our image of God model:

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
- Psalms 19:14 [KJV]

Another example of supernatural communication appears in the many 'ears to hear' passages. The clear implication is that one must have special 'ears' in order to hear spiritual truths. In our simple model, the spiritual ears connect to our thoughts, not to our normal awareness via our five senses.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches
- Revelation 2:11 [KJV]

Finally, 1 Corinthians explains the human ability to receive, or not receive, communication with God. Are you a 'natural' man, or a 'supernatural' one?

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
- 1 Corinthians 2:14 [KJV]

Our Thoughts and the Bible

Thinking at the beach

In the previous section we developed a simple model for human beings. The model is composed of an animal response coupled with an image of God component. In addition, the image of God component contains our thoughts and our words -- currencies that make us different than animals and connect us to the supernatural world of God and His creation. We presented four well-known biblical passages that ratify this simple model.

In this section we explore what the Bible has to say about our thoughts, which are often referenced in the Bible as heart. For instance, before the flood of Noah, human thought was wicked through and through:

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
- Genesis 6:5ff [KJV]

Our Thoughts are Important - The two references to heart in the verse above, man's heart and God's heart, show how closely we are tied to God by our thoughts. Our thoughts are extremely important to spiritual life.

Unregenerate Thoughts are Wicked - Left to ourselves, without the intervention of God, our thoughts can drift to places they should not be. In fact, in the verse below, unchecked thoughts always drift to bad places:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
- Jeremiah 17:9ff [KJV]

and the Lord knows it. He tries to reel us in with reigns on our thoughts, because He is not willing than anyone should perish. Nevertheless, God will not trump the free will of man.

God Can Clean Up Our Thoughts - David knew of God's grace and mercy after his stint with Bathsheba. Repentance is the key to clean thoughts:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
- Psalms 51:10ff [KJV]

Spiritual people repent as soon as they realize they have sinned. As true believers mature, they learn by experience that quick, right-away repentance removes obstacles from their spiritual pathway. So immature believers may harbor sour thoughts for a long time, but as maturity grows in a believer, he or she invites God to clean up their thoughts continuously. Purity of thought is a direct measure of physical and spiritual maturity.

Think on These Things - In fact, a mature Christ-follower will focus on positive, godly virtues:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
- Philippians 4:8 [KJV]

Age and Maturity - In our experience, misguided thinking usually goes away as we get older. Of course there are people who never 'grow up' and shed their immature thought life. However, most do. The pressures and responsibilities of adult life demand it. You cannot easily get a job and support a family with immature thinking. Civilized society expects a natural progression of maturity with age. Becoming a true Bible believer tends to accelerate the process.

Maturing, impure thoughts, and age
As we get older, most people mature and control their thought life. Some people, on the other hand, never grow up. For Christ-followers, a steady decrease in impure thoughts is evidence of true spirituality.

Our Words and the Bible

In the previous section we commented on the Bible's view of our heart-based thoughts. We also saw how impure thoughts tend to decrease with advancing age. The Apostle Paul couples thoughts, words, and maturity in a well-known passage from the book of 1 Corinthians:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
- 1 Corinthians 13:11 [paraphrase]

It is Easy to be a Mind Reader - In fact, you do not have to read a person's mind to tell what that person is thinking. All you have to do is listen to their words. Spoken words reveal thoughts. What is in the heart comes out of the mouth:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
- Luke 6:45 [paraphrase]

brain heart

You cannot discern a person's thoughts by listening to one or two spoken sentences, but long-term speech patterns always reveal long-term thought patterns. It's automatic (verse above). As you get to know someone and listen to his or her speech, you also get to know his or her thoughts. Are the thoughts impure? They manifest as impure speech. Are the words pure? So are the thoughts. It is not a difficult concept to grasp, and the Bible says it works every time.

Deceivers - Crafty people, known as con artists, shysters, and politicians are good at covering their true intentions by carefully measuring their words. They work at it. They tailor their speech usually for control over you or for financial gain. But, in the long run, careful analysis will uncover their true intentions. The Bible warns of such people:

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, 'Eat and drink!' But his heart is not with you.
- Proverbs 23:6ff [NASB]

Our Role

Be on the lookout for deceivers. They are evil people and it is best to flee from them. But, most of the time, a person's impure thoughts and impure words are due to their immaturity and lack of life experience, nothing more. You can:

  • Treat them with respect.
  • Show love to these people.
  • Invite them to church or synagogue.
  • Pray for them.
  • Think and speak purely, as an example.
  • Challenge their thinking with 'Are men and women different than animals?'
  • Invest your life into theirs.

Your love, and the passage of time, will fix the problem.

by Paul Richards

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:47:09 GMT, unknown: 642401 ABbii92HzXB5g
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