Our son, Joshua, a toddler at the time, squealed with delight as we filled a plastic bowl and dumped water over his head in the bathtub. Gasping for air, tiny hands flailing next to his head, grinning as the water dripped down his face, he’d beg us to repeat the sequence. Warm, clear water pouring out of the bowl and over his face completely delighted him.
I wonder, however, what Josh’s response would have been if instead of warm, soothing water, we’d dumped icy or muddy liquid on our unsuspecting boy. Besides being cruel, it certainly would have taken him by surprise. He had a right to think his parents would make choices that encouraged his joyful spirit in a context of safety and fun. What overflowed from the bowl in that bathtub definitely impacted our son’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
Jesus wanted his followers to understand this concept. While teaching a multitude, he reminded them that what we store inside our hearts will eventually overflow in our words. . . . to be sure, what his mouth speaks flows from the heart. Luke 6:45a
As we approach Valentine’s Day, there are plenty of cards available to speak words for us. Choosing a Hallmark card is easy. Living the sentiments inside of them? Not nearly as simple! And in our efforts to grow a life we love, we must constantly monitor our thoughts and attitudes, editing the words we write inside our souls.
Want to know what’s written in your heart? Tune into the words coming out of your mouth. Are love and peace filling our hearts? Then we’re likely pouring out words of patience, calm and understanding. Filled with bitterness? We’re probably snapping at others with harsh, judgmental, negative statements.
My family will tell you there are times I speak words of peace, love and encouragement. Other times I overflow with judgment, negativity and fear. It’s a constant battle, but one God wants us to keep fighting in the power of his Spirit.
What’s IN our hearts will OVERFLOW from our mouths. There's no way around it.
So . . . what to do? Here are a few options:
Start every day with God. (YES! Even if you’re a crazy-busy momma of littles!) Take whatever time your season of life allows. Read one passage posted near your bedroom door. Schedule bible time into your calendar. Listen to a devotion or Christian podcast. Sing a quick hymn or praise song. (Even part of a verse if that’s all the time you have. ;) Be intentional. Do what you can.
Pray. Ask God to meet you in this battle, to fill your heart with his Spirit and to put a guard over your lips.
Pause before you speak. Take that breath. Walk away. Calm down.
Understand there are times when sadness, anger and grief will fill our hearts. God can handle our tough emotions! We just need to be aware of how our words in those situations acknowledge our pain while still trusting our Savior.
Find a safe friend to debrief with and be accountable to as you work on your overflow.
Check yourself often: “Are the words spilling from my overflow showing fruits of the Spirit or aiding the cause of the Enemy?”
And through it all, give yourself grace. Only Jesus’ words overflowed perfectly from a sinless heart. His life, death and resurrection cover each of us in the warm, clear water of forgiveness. And he longs to fill our hearts to the brim, to hear us joyfully proclaim, “Again!” to every beautiful moment drenched in his goodness, so that we overflow with love to others.