I mentioned to you all last week that I’m a music lover. Well, I’ll let you in on another one of my playlists… I’m a mood based listener. What I mean is that based upon my mood determines what I listen to. On Wednesday’s I carve out my day to get ready for Sunday’s message. And the soundtrack for that day is almost always from this guy here…
Ólafur Arnalds. He is an Icelandic producer and composer who has caused a commotion in the classical world. Arnalds produces an incredible soundtrack… It’s melancholy, it’s pensive, it’s thought provoking. It moves you to emotion. But here’s the part that is amazing, is that he takes on classical music with a modern twist. He’s layering electronic instruments over the tracks and creating something that wasn’t there before. Taking the best of the classics and adding to them.
We are familiar with people layering on and adding things to what we hear, right? This happens all the time. People tell Little White Lies. A white lie is defined as a harmless or trivial lie. We are familiar with these types of lies.
At work we hear people talk about how great their job performance is, and all of the things that they have accomplished. And yet, you know that most of that never happened.
How about in Parenting. We love to brag about our kid’s accomplishments. But can he really spell any word you throw out there? I mean he’s 14 months old!
We exaggerate, we tell white lies, we use our language to bolster our image. This is common, and commonly accepted. What’s the big deal? Right? Well those are situations where our words don’t seem to carry much responsibility. Because after all, every parent thinks their kid is the smartest, most talented, or funniest.
But what about those moments in life when you’re asked a question that carries more weight to it. Some questions require your words to be more precise.
- Your Boyfriend asks: Will you marry me? [Maybe]
- A Detective asks: Where were you on the night of? [Not Sure, isn’t that your job?”]
- Your wife says: Do these jeans make me look fat? [The answer is always NO]
- Is it okay to look up at the sun during the eclipse?
It seemed like everyone had an opinion on this one. We were trying to figure this whole thing out because my youngest, Leah, was really concerned that she was going to go blind. She just couldn’t not look up at it. What if she just got out of school and had to take a peek.
Well, it seemed like everyone was weighing in on the issue. And the question was whose voice did you turn to?
Well, we found an expert online… Gerry Brooks put this video up online where he was describing what was happening. At first glance, I’m sold. I mean the guy is in a NASA jumpsuit! What could go wrong. Then this happened. He brought out his model of the sun made from Oreo’s and tic-tacs. That was the moment where I thought, wait a second, we might be off a little… I think NASA’s budget is bigger than some cookies on a stick.
Gerry had his own opinion on whether or not you could look at the sun. Here’s his solution… [VIDEO of GERRY BROOKS]
(first Gerry Brooks Slide) Cur-sco is good for anything!!! Including protecting your eyes!
Can you agree that we hear all kinds of things? Determining what is true and accurate is a problem.
This isn’t just a modern day problem. In fact, this is an issue that people have been dealing with for years. This is what leads Jesus to say, “You’ve Heard It Said” 6 times Jesus uses the phrase, You have heard it said. Or you’ve heard the original version, now listen to what I’m about to say.
Jesus drops another lyrical remix with the phrase You’ve Heard it said. Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 5:33-37 today. That’s page 678 in the Bibles around you.
Matthew is retelling Jesus’ famous Message on the Mountain, or the Sermon on the Mount here in Matthew 5. Let’s take a look at what Jesus has to say.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’
This phrase “do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.” Finds its roots in the fact that human beings from the beginning of time have misused their language in order to achieve a desired result. To get more land, more money, better position… You name it, and humans have misused their words in order to gain it. And because of this misuse, Judaism developed an elaborate system of oaths and vows to guarantee that some words were especially true.
It’s why on the solar eclipse glasses they were marked approved by NASA, or approved by the American Astronomical Society. The stamp, the oath, or the vow is that these are trustworthy glasses to protect your eyes. Otherwise there would be jokers out there trying to sell their own Eclipse Glasses. Like this one.
We have this all over the place in our society. That’s why there are approvals and certifications to PROVE that you are purchasing or using an authentic, TRUE, version. Here’s the problem, we all know this. Loose language loses trust. Misuse of language, or little white lies, lead people to mistrust. And in order to regain trust, people were having to swear and take oaths. This is what is normal, this is what was common. You’ve heard it said… And so Jesus says,
34But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Matt. 5:33-37
When we tell little white lies, when we are loose with our language we have to PROVE them to be true, and then if we can’t prove them to be true we have to fake it till we make it. In both the Gentile and Jewish worlds, an oath invoked the deity to guarantee the truth of what was being said. Or else they would be punished by the one who they claimed would guarantee their oath. So, they would say things like I swear by heaven that this is true. I swear by my head… Oaths became contests to see who could bind the most impressive object to their statement to give them the most impressive force. Accept, there’s a problem here.
This puts the one who is swearing the oath in the position of control and authority. Think about this for a second. You get to the place where you decide that you’re going to purchase a house. You show up to the house, it’s perfect… You can picture the kids running in the yard, swimming in the pool, and you know this is the place. Well, there is this little problem. The seller doesn’t trust that you’ve got the money to purchase the home. So what do you need to do? You need a mortgage. You need someone to guarantee the fact that you’ll have that money.
Now in the situation between a Mortgage Company, and the Mortgagee, who do you think is in control? Who sets the terms? You can think you’re in control until you run out of money…
Jesus is saying, it’s foolish to swear by anything, because you have no control over anyone else.
To swear by God is trying to control God. And God doesn’t exist to serve us, but we exist to serve God! When it comes to control, the only control you have is over the integrity of your words. And yet, you and I see people who Loose Control in their conversations all the time.
And yet, Words Are Hard to Control. Your Words Reveal Your Heart
Story about exaggeration…
What made me say that? I knew it wasn’t true… it just felt good. It made me look good. It made me better than others. I’m not alone on this one. You’ve done this too.
And we explain it away as, it was just a white lie. It didn’t hurt anyone. But what it reveals is a desire to be more important than we are. To be cooler than we are. To be wiser than we are. To be more successful than we are. We just wanted to look good in front of everyone else.
Pastor Craig Groeschel has said it this way,
“Becoming obsessed with what others think of you is the fastest way to forget what God thinks of you.” ~Craig Groeschel
What matters most, what God thinks of you, or what others think of you?
Your words reveal your heart! Or there’s the opposite that happens. You’re in a disagreement with your spouse or a friend, and things start getting heated, and words start flying, and then there is that moment. The moment where you’ve gone and said something too far. She looks across at you and says, so that’s how you really feel huh? Or he heard what you said, and now knows how you really feel.
Your words reveal your heart. A heart that is focused on itself stretches the truth, exaggerates its accomplishments, and minimizes everyone else. This is normal, this is commonly accepted. But Christ calls us to something far greater than common. Jesus says, “You have heard it said…”
But Jesus says.. “But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all…
37All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Jesus drives to the simple point… Let your Yes be yes, and your no be no. Keep it simple. Why? Your words affect more than just you. Every single person who hears your voice is affected by your words. Even a whisper has power.
Your words aren’t one sided. When you speak, you aren’t the only one listening. They make an impact on everyone who hears them. Jesus is saying, a very simple statement to a people group who love to make things complicated. He says, Be Accountable To Your Words.
It’s hard to say, I didn’t mean that, when that’s what you said.
Jesus is showing us that it is about our heart. It’s not just about the outward appearance, the way we sound, or how intelligent we appear. Proverbs 4:23 says,
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Your heart is the birthplace of your thoughts your desires, and from there, they grow into your words. Everything you are starts with what’s going on inside your heart. Your words simply act as a thermometer of your heart. Our life flows from our hearts.
Too often the opposite is true. We allow life to inform our hearts.
So when work is disappointingly hard, our hearts reflect that. When someone hurts you, it angers you, and your heart is hardened by it. Or maybe you’ve entered one of the hardest stages of life and you let your heart be directed by the circumstances. You can’t control the outcome, but you can control your response to it.
Our words reveal our heart. Jesus is inviting us to be accountable to our words.
Here are Three Steps we can take to Be Accountable To Our Words:
- Delay It
- Sometimes we just get going so fast in conversation that we can get ahead of ourselves. Our heart out paces our brain and we get ourselves into trouble. Just delay it. Slow down. There is no reason to say something you haven’t thought through.
- Filter It
- There are things that just aren’t worth saying. Maybe they’re not appropriate, they don’t add value or they don’t represent the heart that you desire to have. Filter it!
- Own It
- There are times when you just have to own it. Your words didn’t match reality—A white Lie. Or they didn’t match what you meant. Be quick to correct it and own it. I’m sorry, what I said wasn’t entirely true. What I meant to say was.
Communication is critical. It directs our relationships with others and one of the most important things that Jesus says apart from Loving God is loving others. The way we speak directly impacts that way we love. Love is always truthful.
Let me ask you… How are you doing with your words? When you think through the course of the day, how are you spending your words? Are your words used to build people up? Or to tear them down?
Are you using your words to encourage others? Or is it easier to find the what’s wrong with others and talk about it?
But words also affect us corporately. Here at Hope City, we’ve determined that this is a place where people can find hope and experience home. And few people want to go home where others talk about them, where they are hurt by words, or where words are used to judge others.
Imagine with me how powerful it could be if were were people who used our words wisely, and as Jesus said, All you need is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.