What we say really does matter.
We shouldn’t be surprised; it was Jesus who said beginning in Matthew 12:33, speaking to the Pharisees:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
In other words, the fruit reveals the root. If you want to know what’s in your heart look at what’s coming out of your mouth. Jesus’ brother, James, echoed the Lord’s words in his own letter when talking about the revelatory nature of words:
Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water (James 3:11-12).
What that means for you and I, among other things, is that we may think we believe one thing, and yet what we say reveals what’s really true in our heart. We might, for example, say we believe that God is with us all the time through the Holy Spirit, and yet when we pray, we ask that God would “be with” so and so during their time of need. What we mean is that God would comfort them, help them, let them feel His presence, but what we say implies that deep in our hearts we truly believe that the presence of God ebbs and flows based on our circumstances.
Here’s another case study that I often find in myself. I look around and see illness. Suffering. Persecution. Trouble. Hardship. And I say to myself and out loud, “God will do something about this.” And that’s true; God will eventually do something about all these things in a visible, tangible, apparent way. He will fix it, and He will fix it all.
But if the only thing I ever say is that “God will,” then I am selling short the presence and power of God. God not only will do; He is doing. Currently. Presently. At this very moment.
It’s a much harder thing to embrace the “is” in addition to the “will”; embracing the “is” means choosing to see passed the surface level. It means choosing the road of faith. It means choosing to believe something that contradicts what our senses tell us to be true. And ultimately, it means assuming that I know what redemption and good looks like in a given situation.
I do not.
And because I do not, I must prepare my heart for the fact that God’s good, His fix for a given situation, might not be what I have in mind. It will likely be different than my limited view and calloused heart can imagine; and it will be far greater than what I have in mind. That’s what He is doing; He’s in the middle of His work and has not pushed pause.
While we long for what we believe by faith to be experienced by sight, we must not only embrace that coming day when it’s a reality, but also embrace the present day by faith. Even though it looks like a downward trajectory all around us, God is still here. He is still at work.
He is the God who is. Not the God who will be.