Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Keepers of the Heart Know Words Become Bullets

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure."
– Matthew 12:34,35
     Does it seem that more and more angry and hateful words uttered by people are becoming bullets? I'm not just talking about hateful and angry words spoken by a radical imam far off in the Middle East, but by people as part of our national daily dialogue. Here's a sample of what I mean:

• Angry words about immigrants from Mexico have now translated into increased deaths in Arizona: Link to Salon
• Hateful words about gays have directly translated into the deaths by suicide: Link to Dallas Voice
• Glenn Beck's hateful words about the Tide Foundation, an organization that facilitates charitable giving, almost ended in a blood bath: Link to Salon

      Yes, yes, I know all about the First Amendment. Still, I can't help but think of the words of Supreme Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in 1919: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic…" Have we really become a people who believe that because of the First Amendment nothing we might choose to say has any real consequence? Have we so forgotten the power of well-reasoned discourse and carefully chosen words that we believe the only effective remedies are "Second Amendment remedies"? When did we become so powerless as a people?

      Rather than try to reach back to a time of civility in American life and politics I'm not quite sure ever really existed, I would suggest the kind of angry tirades we hear on talk radio, from leaders in our government, from consumers who feel they have been wronged by a store or restaurant, from drivers irritated by traffic, and sadly sometimes even from our own mouths, are not in keeping with the Christian path.
"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." – Proverbs 4
     We, as Christians, are to be keepers of the heart. If we want to change the world, it is not done with legislation or wars or sparkly new scientific inventions – it is done by changing hearts. The simplest barometer of the state of our hearts are the words we speak. I may not be able to change the tenor of the national dialogue, but I can be vigilant to keep watch over my own heart and encourage others to do the same. Oh, neither you nor I will ever do it perfectly, but it's a start. If those who are not Christians can't see any difference between the way we talk and the way everyone else talks, how then will they recognize us?


  1.       Great… a prophet. No wonder people in the Bible who got that job hated it.


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