The Overflow of the Heart

Heart symbol made of water splashes, isolated on white backgRound
Yesterday, while driving to the bank, but before I’d left my small, quiet neighborhood, I noticed a man walking two dogs. So that he would not have to wait for me, I ran the stop sign (yes, I did). Another neighbor in his car lowered his window and I lowered mine, assuming he wanted to tell me something. He screamed at me with profanities that I had run the stop sign. Then, for emphasis, he blared his horn and drove off. Totally speechless, stunned and flustered, I went on to the bank, rehearsing my actions and my motives—I thought I was acting out of kindness for a neighbor walking his dogs in the cold. I could not have been going more than 10 miles per hour.

I sat at the drive-thru waiting, my heart still pounding, and wondered if I was the cause of such vitriol or if there was something deeper. I temporarily excused his behavior by assuming that he’d had a bad day and just took it out on me. And, of course, I did run the stop sign.

Jesus’ words came to mind, “from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” Matthew 12:34-35.

Whether we like to admit it or not, our words reflect what’s in our hearts. We speak evil because evil resides in our hearts.

It would have been easy for me to conclude—that man was evil and that’s why he treated me so harshly. But not so fast—what about my words? After a few moments of being shell-shocked, I recall mumbling something about a mean, rude, miserable old man! Guilty me, I had returned evil for evil.

Now James’ words ring in my mind, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” James 3:9-10.

God’s double-edged sword pierces me, bringing self-examination: I use my mouth to recite God’s Word over and over in praise to God, and occasionally, far too often, I use my mouth to degrade another human being, made in God’s likeness. James would say, “This must stop.”

Another warning from Jesus, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” Matthew 12:36-37.

That’s why I memorize Scripture. It’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. I’m committed to this lifelong process. How about you?

7 comments to The Overflow of the Heart

  • Teresa Roach

    Excellent post, Janet. Thanks for sharing how you processed this interaction with that man. What a great example of how God turned an every day experience into a lesson.

  • mickey

    Just when i think I am making progress in this area,I am reminded I
    still have a long way to go. Even though I can usually keep from
    speaking the words, it bothers me that they enter my mind. But then I
    am reminded that In Romans 6 it says that if we present ourselves to
    sin as slaves it leads to death, but if we present ourselves as slaves to obedience it leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to sanctification and sanctification leads to eternal life. Which reminds me of Hebrews 12:1 which says to lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. And If I didn’t have this in my head, I would just be discouraged.

    • Thank you Mickey. I am thankful that God doesn’t let me walk in my delusion that I’m above what other people might do. I need the rebukes that come from God’s Word, and I welcome them. There’s a freedom there, that God will show me where I need work. God loves me too much to leave me where I am.

  • Ethan

    Great lesson from a bad experience. A good reminder for all of us. I am sure everyone reading your post has had a similar experience. Maybe not at a stop sign, but maybe in a store or somewhere else.

  • Lise Anderson Brocious

    Janet and Ethan, I have been there in traffic when I did something just dumb and someone started yelling and honking at me. After going through the same process you went through, I was so thankful for Scripture to bring me back to Him instead of focusing on myself or the person that I thought wronged me. Praise God.

  • Chérie

    Living in a hi-tech society where we “know” some people only by their social media picture, and not by their true day to day actions, it is such a blessing to sit under a teacher 2x a week who is more than willing to share her weaknesses that God can and does redeem. Especially when one is so willing to allow Him too. From crankiness toward traditions of Christmas— to running a stop sign, thank you for your transparency that makes us love you all the more. The beautiful part is that when convicted by the Holy Spirit—We know we’ve DEFINITELY BEEN ADOPTED AS GODS OWN, because if we weren’t, we wouldn’t care. Before I started memorizing, I was convicted now and then of behavior or thoughts, but now it is so much more. (Romans 8:16!!!). Thanks again Janet. The stop sign story hits home.

    • Thanks Cherie for your words of encouragement. Glad you like my REAL stories. I’ve got plenty of them. God is at work chiseling off the wood, working toward a replica of His Son. So thankful He doesn’t let me go my own way. His Word grabs me and brings me back.