“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. 4.12 ESV)
As I was going through my sophomore and junior years of high school (I’m not afraid to admit), I had a real bad problem with my mouth. I didn’t have a speech impediment or a stuttering problem; instead my problem was something that I chose to do. I was a terrible cusser.
Cussing is obviously not a good thing (James 3.1-12) and my cussing was no different. I set a bad example for the Christians I went to school with and maybe most importantly, I wasn’t being a proper representative of Christ. Cussing, however, is not the only way we can set a bad example in our speech. Maybe cussing isn’t your problem but gossip is, or maybe your problem is that you backbite or slander others. All of these types of things set a bad example for “the believers”.
We are called just as Timothy, a man of God, to be a good example to the believers in all our actions. The tongue is where it all starts. In James 3.3-4, the tongue is likened to that of a rudder on a ship. Although the ship is large and heavy, it is directed by the rudder. This is exactly how it is for the body. Our words “set up a path” so to speak, for the rest of our body to follow. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that what we say shows people who we are. If the things we say aren’t good, then we won’t be seen as a good example! We’ve got to be a good example in our speech!
What I want to ask you today is: Are you a good example in speech? If you’re not, where do you start? Matthew 12 tells us that it is “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12.33-35 ESV)
What we say is a result of our heart. This isn’t the heart that pumps blood through our bodies. No, this is the heart that we have in our minds, our inner being or our essential nature. Our heart is who we are! What is it that we treasure and hold dear? That’s what’s in our heart and that’s what Jesus is talking about here. The simple answer to my question is this: We need to get our heart right if we’re ever going to speak right!
We need to fill our hearts with the right kinds of things. If we decide to constantly surround ourselves with the word of God and surround ourselves in prayer, that will be reflected in our speech. I want to encourage you today to pick one day this week and for at least 10 minutes go sit somewhere calm and secluded and read a section of scripture and then proceed to talk with God. You’ll be amazed at what will happen! You will find that your heart will begin to yearn to spend more time in God’s word and in conversation with him. And, your speech will be reflective of that!