The Mind and the Mouth

The Mind and the Mouth May 29, 2024

Photo by marianne bos on Unsplash

Our culture is marked by anger and hatred. Proverbs tells us that there is a connection between the mind and the mouth. What comes out of the mouth reflects what is in our hearts and minds.

Scripture:       

Proverbs, chapters 10-12; Romans, chapter 10

Proverbs 10:6-14 (CEB):

Blessings cover the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked rots. The skilled mind accepts commands, but a foolish talker is ruined. Those who walk in innocence walk with confidence, but those on crooked paths will be found out. Those who wink an eye bring trouble; those who speak foolishly are ruined.

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hate stirs up conflict, but love covers all offenses. Wisdom is found on the lips of those who have understanding, but there is a rod for the back of those with no sense. The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings on ruin.

Observations: The Mind and the Mouth

I often find it difficult to reflect on passages from Proverbs, because there is often no continuity between the verses. As we might expect from a collection of proverbs, each verse usually stands on its own. “Proverb: (1) a short popular saying, usually of unknown and ancient origin, that expresses effectively some commonplace truth or useful thought; adage; saw. (2) a wise saying or precept; a didactic sentence” (dictionary.com).

But as I read today’s chapters from Proverbs, I noticed how many times the theme of the mind and the mouth popped up. In addition to the verses I quoted above, these verses also discuss our words: Proverbs 10:18-21; 10:31-32; 11:11-13; 12:6; 12:13-19; 12:22-23. Throughout all of these passages we see the same basic theme as in 10:14: The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings on ruin.

“Jesus said, ‘Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you know that everything that goes into the mouth enters the stomach and goes out into the sewer? But what goes out of the mouth comes from the heart. And that’s what contaminates a person in God’s sight. Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adultery, sexual sins, thefts, false testimonies, and insults. These contaminate a person in God’s sight. But eating without washed hands doesn’t contaminate in God’s sight’” (Matthew 15:16-20, CEB, emphasis added).

Application: The Mind and the Mouth

Jesus confirmed what the writer of Proverbs stated: the mouth of a fool brings on ruin. We also have to remember that in the Old Testament, the “fool” was one who lived as though there was no God. “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt and do evil things; not one of them does any good” (Psalm 14:1; see also Psalm 53:1).

But Jesus also said that we know people by their fruit. In other words, it’s not enough to say that there is a God, or even that we “believe” in God. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21, emphasis added).

One key point that emerges twice in our passage for today deals with anger and violence. Two times (verses 6 and 11) we read, “The mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” Verse 12 then offers another view of the connection between the mind and the mouth: Hate stirs up conflict, but love covers all offenses. As followers of Jesus, we’re called to love everyone – both “neighbors” and “enemies.”

Hate Stirs Up Conflict

When I read the phrase, hate stirs up conflict, I can’t help but think of what passes for political discourse in our society today. People seem to think that anger validates them – but this type of anger doesn’t help anyone. Anger breeds anger; hate breeds hate. We’ve lost the ability to disagree with each other without anger and hatred. Our society is paying the price.

So what are we to do? Well, as followers of Jesus, we’re called to a different path. We’re called to love as Jesus loved – not by condemning others, but by showing them something better. “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore” (John 8:11, CEB). Real love means that we want what is best for others. Often, that “best” is not what they think they “want.” But real love also means that we don’t respond in anger, even if others react that way to us. “What goes out of the mouth comes from the heart” – and God wants our hearts filled with love, not hate.

Prayer:

Father, thank you for reminding us that there is a connection between our minds and our mouths. If we’re known by our fruit, help us to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings on ruin. Help us to have righteous mouths, which are a fountain of life (verse 11). Amen.

 

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