I had a dream recently that reminded me of how we carry around deep-seated beliefs that can influence us in ways we don’t consider. In my dream I was at a church, (disclaimer: this was a dream not a real church or a real pastor). As the pastor was preaching he randomly spoke a racial slur and continued with his sermon as if it never happened. As I sat there trying to decide if I heard him correctly a woman stood up furious, gathered her things and left. Others began to follow suit. The pastor suddenly realizing his offense began pleading and apologizing with the crowd as little by little the room began to empty. As I sat there observing the scene Matthew 12:34 came to mind, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Similarly in Luke 6:45 ESV it says “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” It was out of the abundance of what was hidden deep in that Pastors heart that he spoke an evil word. He wasn’t an inherently evil person, but because of his words was considered so. In fact, he was immediately remorseful as soon as he realized what he had done. However, the Bible calls the person who speaks “evil” as evil. I believe the reference is being made to the condition of the heart and mind of the person speaking. In other words someone who speaks kind words and is not harsh or critical is the “good” person. This person has good stored in them. They have positive hearts filled with encouragement for others and their intent is not to harm anyone. They understand that words can and often do hurt and choose to speak kindly. Because they are filled with good thoughts about their world and people in it they expect the best from those they encounter and are kind and caring in their words and demeanor.
In contrast an “evil” person has prejudice, chauvinistic, or sexist thoughts, like for instance the Pastor in my dream. Have you ever thought about how you identify a bigot, chauvinist or sexist? Usually they are most easily identified by their words. The things they say stem from their beliefs, their beliefs in this case would be the “evil treasure” referred to in Luke 6:45. As they draw from the abundance of hate, judgement, and negativity, in their hearts they speak them in conversation. Ever been around a negative person? Most everything they talk about is described in a negative manner. Nothing good ever seems to happen to them, it’s their bad luck all of the time. If it’s going to happen it’ll happen to them, it’s always one bad thing after another. They are an abundance of negativity.
You may be thinking, well that’s not me. I’m a good person, Im not a bigot, chauvinist or a sexist. That may be true, but are you judgemental, critical, or angry about what you think someone should be doing? Or maybe you think you know what they shouldn’t be doing? Or perhaps you just think you know what they’re thinking and that they’re wrong. We say things like, “If he thinks he can borrow my car….” Or “I know what she’s thinking, she thinks she can…” These are actually our thoughts and expectations of others. They may not be true, no matter how realistic the scenario may seem. We just THINK that we know. But we don’t, not really.
I’m sure that my dream was prompted by some recent articles I read regarding political and racial controversies that have induced an unprecedented amount of public opinion. The problem with opinions is that they are based on our beliefs. They come from our heart treasuries. Again that is the abundance of whatever is in our hearts. And as we’ve already discussed beliefs can vary depending on the condition of our hearts and minds. I’m not saying you’re wrong in what you think. What I’m trying to point out is that opinion depends on perspective which depends on where you’re standing. For example if you and I stood on opposite sides of a two way street and as cars passed by on my side, a car accident occurred on your side. We both give a report of the accident as we saw it from our vantage points. Our reports will be slightly different according to the details you saw that I did not. Does it mean that I’m lying or wrong? No, I’m telling the truth as I saw it from my perspective which may also be swayed by my opinion. For instance, I may think the driver who caused the accident was driving too fast. I don’t know it for a fact but I can conclude based on my life experiences. However, it still doesn’t mean I’m right.
With all the diversity in the world it’s easy to see how misunderstandings occur. Remembering that we’re all standing on opposite sides of the road of life and have different perspectives can help us avoid evil judgements and evil words. When you run into old Negative Nelly, gather your things and leave her with her negativity sermon. (She won’t be surprised.) Most importantly heed the advice of Proverbs 4:23 which reads “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are thy issues of life.” The NIV reads, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Of course all this is just my opinion.