Say It From the Heart-Matthew 15:18-19

Say It from the Heart Matthew 15:18-19 September 15, 2019
Today we are beginning a new sermon series entitled, ‘Say What.”  I thought of that title because I know I have said things to people at times and I could tell by the look on their face they were taken back.  I have been the recipient of moments when someone has said something to me and the only thing going through my mind was those two words, “say what.”  Therefore, for the couple of weeks we’re going to be looking at the issue of communication.
One way I can have a high degree of confidence a topic can be relevant for a sermon or sermon series is the number of quotes on that topic that I can find.  Let me rattle off a few that I found with one brief search on Google about communication and communicating with others.
Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something.”
“The biggest communication problem we have is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”  Source unknown
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
DEFINITION- Communication is the exchanging of understanding between two people or groups.  How well we communicate makes a significant impact on our lives and others.  In preparation for this series, I am wrapping up a book entitled, Crucial Conversations.  The authors provided two examples based on research of the benefits of communicating well. • Couples who could state their concerns respectfully and honestly had a much higher rate of staying together. P.13
• Immune systems were stronger in couples who had been married for years and demonstrated a healthy pattern of communications. p.15
Hopefully everyone here today is aware there is some aspect in how we talk and share with our spouse, kids, coworkers, neighbors, fellow church members that has room for improvement.
Chances are all of us have stories when we did not put our best foot forward especially in a conversation that was important.  
If you feel a little squeamish about tackling this topic let me share a really brief video piece.  The video is of Pastor Andy Stanley.  He is hands down my favorite preacher to watch and read.  He did a series on communication entitled, Me and My Big Mouth.  I will definitely be using some of his material for this series.  His brief sharing ought to make us all feel like we’re not alone with our communication blunders.
Play video
It is important that we give communication some time in a series for two reasons, the selfishness of our sin and the culture we live carries its share of toxic influence on how we communicate.  Our communication styles and content can be influenced by the people and culture around us that consist of entertainment, sports and politics.  The other day I was listening to a radio sports program.  The sportscaster was talking about an upcoming college football game.  He said about three times in a very passionate manner, “I hope that teams gets murdered, I mean absolutely murdered.”   You can call me being guilty of political correctness, but I am thinking with all the violence in society, could you please chose some other imagery to get across your point and passion.  I am sure the man is good at what he does, doesn’t mean any harm, he might have graduated top of his class in sports journalism, but his words were for me nothing to imitate.  The culture we live in is not always the healthiest influence.
 Jesus once said, “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.”  Someone added, “Be wises as serpents but be careful not to obtain the heart of a serpent.”  Various aspects of the culture we are a part of  and possibly the family influence that raised us are so toxic that as Christians we need to keep coming back to Jesus and the teachings of the Bible to remind us to keep growing in our awareness of how we are communicating with others.
Caution – remember not to equate longevity for competency and wisdom to communicate.  
Now many of you know it would be easy to immediately go into the book of James and start there.  Let’s even read a few verses from James chapter three.  Listen to verses 5-11.  
James 3:5-11
What I want to focus on today is what is driving the tongue/the words we speak that make others want to look at us and go, “Say What.” We need to consider what the scripture says is fueling our tongues/words.  According to Jesus it’s a matter of the heart not the mouth or tongue.
It’s a matter of the heart; not the mouth – Matthew 12:34, Matthew 15:18-19. Remember in the biblical world, the word heart is synonymous with the mind.  Those two words get used inter-changeably to communicate the same concept.  The heart/mind is used to describe the very core of our being that makes us who we are.  
The scripture we’re about to hear is linked with an occasion when the religious leaders named Pharisees, falsely accused Jesus of casting out an evil spirit or demon out of a man.  They said because Jesus was empowered by the devil, Jesus was able to cast out the demon.  The
Pharisees were supposed to be good and righteous.  Yet, when Jesus liberated a man from the power of evil, they made the false and reckless accusations.  For Jesus that was his “say what” moment.  Jesus responded to the Pharisees with these words.  
Read Matthew 12:34-35
Now one thing just to note briefly here and that is the name Jesus called these men, “brood of vipers.”  “Brood of vipers” was a very derogatory description about the men’s character.  There is no way of saying those words without realizing Jesus was angry with them and wasn’t playing around.  
There can be times when our communication may be similar; but don’t go to that well too often.
Secondly, notice what Jesus tells them and that is you’re only able to say such a wild accusation because of what is in your heart.  Jesus said – “the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure.”
How well we communicate is a matter of what is in our hearts; not what someone else did or did not cause us to say or do.
It’s important to think about because our minds and hearts don’t just speak into situations; but from the heart we also assess and interpret rightly or wrongly what we think others are saying/communicating to us.
Pareidolia – Anyone heard of the word Pareidolia? Pareidolia is the ability of the mind to see an image when the image isn’t really there.  An example is when you see an image of Jesus on the side of your frig.  It’s the reason we look at clouds and see Mickey Mouse or a whale floating in the sky.
Sometimes in conversations, especially the heated ones, the tense ones, important ones where a variety of emotions will be in play, rejection, distrust, regret, anger, our interpretation about the moment can see something that really isn’t there and it contaminates our hearts.  
Clarify what’s on your heart to share – James 4:8. One thing that is relevant to communication is having clarity in our hearts about what we want to say. Conversations sometimes go badly because we offer our words with what the Bible more than once describes as “divided heart.”  We find in the scriptures that God has to constantly help His people with this condition because hearts are not where they should be or need to be.  Listen to a couple of verses about this point.
Hebrews 3:10 contains prophecy where God criticizes the people of Israel and in the process says, “They always go astray in their hearts.”   Their hearts start wandering past the boundaries of what is good.
James 1:26 says, “If any think they are religious and do not bridle their tongues, but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.”  
James 4:8 says “purify your hearts you double-minded.”  
• We say what we didn’t mean or said what we should not have because our hearts are not clear on what we really want and want to say.   • Our hearts are not in-sync with what God would have us to say.
So, one of the things we need to think about to grow in communicating better is to clarify what is really true to us and what do we really want and want to say; not just what we’re feeling at the moment.  If we fail to clarify to ourselves what we want to express, we’re more likely to fulfill what the scripture describes, going astray in our hearts, deceiving ourselves and being doubleminded.
In the book, Crucial Conversations, the author stressed the importance of knowing what you want and want to say is so crucial and if we don’t our conversations become like “icebergs.”  We all follow the imagery, right?  Icebergs might appear not to be very large on top of the water but below the surface of the water the size and threat of the iceberg can be much more substantial and dangerous.
Lack of clarity helps create icebergs of motives inconsistent with what we say is the priority of our hearts.  Here are some common deviations when we get into an important conversation and intense exchange. Wanting to win the conversation instead of work things out. Seeking revenge. Hoping to remain safe because we become fearful of communicating what we really wanted to say.  
Illustrations: I read a story of a woman who went in for a tonsillectomy but had her foot operated on.  Members of the medical team were too afraid to speak up and question the procedure.  Seven people on the surgical team wondered why the doctor was operating on the foot, but no one said anything.   (Crucial Conversations, p.22)                                                                                                    Therefore, it is important to stay aware of clarity about what’s in the heart and what needs expressed.                                                                                                   
Put Jesus back as Lord – 1 Peter 3:15. A key solution to communicate well and avoid divided hearts and mixed motivations is found in 1 Peter 3:15 which says “but in your hearts, sanctify Jesus as Lord…”  
Now to be fair with this passage, when Peter is talking about sanctifying Jesus as Lord of our hearts, Peter was using this in the context of communicating with others about our faith in Jesus.  He goes onto say be ready to tell people about the hope that lies within in you.  However, the principle still applies.  Whether were getting ready to share our faith
with someone or whether we are in an important conversation, Jesus needs to be number one. • Notice, Peter is writing to followers of Jesus.  He was not writing to the unchurched.  The word sanctify means to be set aside in a special place of reverence and top priority.   • Therefore, when Peter said to sanctify in your hearts Jesus as Lord it means make sure you put Jesus back in charge of who you are before you speak.  • Make sure your actions and motivations stack up to what is pleasing to him; not just you.   • Put Jesus back in charge of how things are going to be handled.   • If we only please us, then we can be baptized, members of the church, but that doesn’t mean Jesus is functioning as our Lord of our conversations. 
Next week we are going to get into practical passages from James that will help us to take actions steps that demonstrate Jesus is Lord of our conversations.  The scripture really over the next two weeks will help us decide whether our words are honoring Christ and helping others and what steps we will want to take because we are seeking to put Jesus in charge of our conversations.

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