Matthew 12: 34b for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
I heard a statistic recently that the average person speaks 16,000 words per day. I found that to be an incredible number. Do I really speak that many words? While one would think that sports should have very little to do with speaking, the reality is that words have become crucial, especially for elite athletes. Beyond the personal verbal interaction with coaches, with fellow athletes and with the public, for many elite athletes there comes a level of fame, and with that, countless interviews such as radio, TV, online, magazine and newspaper. The value, or perhaps the weight of the words they speak becomes magnified.
God understands the gravity of the words we speak and not surprisingly he spends considerable time in his Word giving caution to the errant use of words, and he commends the wise use of words. For example, Proverbs 18:21 says: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
How much thought have you put into the words you speak? If you looked at the 16,000 words you speak in a day, how edifying are they? How many of those words honor others and honor God? While I do spend time contemplating what I say, I’ve never really looked at the net sum of positive versus negative words I speak. For me, the exercise of reflecting on the day and evaluating my words I have spoken and considering the value of my words, would be extremely helpful. How did I do today with my tongue? How can I do better tomorrow?
For a Christian Athlete in the spotlight or even Christian coaches, I have to imagine that it is a particularly weighty thing. If you are in this place, there are certainly days in which you are struggling and you may be lacking in a number of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23), especially patience, yet you still need to speak (often with large numbers of people listening in). If you are in this place, it is absolutely critical that your day starts out with the Word of God, and you continue communing with God (even if only in silent meditation with him). It is critical that the Lord Jesus, who lives in you, is the voice that is heard, and not your natural man. It is critical that your heart is right with the Lord. Live a life of repentance, spend time dealing with sin in your life, allow God to do a work in your heart. This is critical because the scriptures tell us that: “out of the overflow of our heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b).
Whether you are a famous athlete, coach, parent or you are relatively unknown, you have a God-given responsibility to guard your tongue and speak life. Each of us has that opportunity, responsibility, and privilege, and it is one which we must take seriously. Consider surveying your use of words at the end of the day and ask the Holy Spirit to convict you where it has not been pleasing to God. Get your heart right with God and speak life. “9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3: 9-10).