“The source of harsh speech is a harsh heart.” So writes John Crotts in his very helpful book, Graciousness: Tempering Truth with Love. Biblically speaking, all of our speech originates in our heart (Prov. 4:23; Matt. 12:34). Therefore, we must “work backwards” from sinful, harmful speech to the heart cause. The cause, Crotts insightfully illustrates, is the gunpowder stored up in our hearts.
Although the Lord has renewed the hearts of Christians, they have remaining sin inside them. They are not, however, ruled by that sin. The bondage to sin has been broken, but remaining sin continues, and what is in the heart will come out of the mouth. Why is a person ultimately harsh or critical, according to the Bible? While external triggers are situational factors, ultimately the source of harshness is inside the person’s heart. Stray sparks do little damage without fuel, but if a spark lands on gunpowder, a great explosion will occur. The gunpowder that has been stored up in the heart reacts to a difficult day with the kids. Without the gunpowder, the external trigger harmlessly passes by undetected. In order to begin to put off harshness, people must cut through the situations of their life and examine the sins of their mind, will, and emotions.
What are some of the “chemical components” of that gunpowder that explodes in ungraciousness? Crotts mentions seven:
- Lack of love and compassion
“These sins below the surface are not pretty. It is easier for us to be harsh with others when we don’t consider the ugly source for our critical edge. Because Christians, however, want to overcome such wickedness, we must go below the surface of our lips into our hearts. We must identify the foul sources of our sinful speech and call them what they are.” If you want to be challenged to grow in grace, I recommend you get a copy of Graciousness. I’m on my second read-through, and am really challenged