Purifying the Well: An Introduction
My unnamable tongue
Years ago I became aware that I had a quick tongue and, more often than not, I seemed to be using it the wrong way. Too often I found myself reliving a previous conversation wishing I hadn’t said this and realizing I shouldn’t have said that.
Scripture warns us of this problem (James 3, for example), thus, I had to figure out a way to deal with my propensity for oratory damage.
My initial solution: Stop talking.
This is a true story! In my immaturity I decided that this was the best way to deal with my seemingly uncontrollable mouth.
Looking back, I give myself an A– for motivation, D+ for the proposed solution, and an F– for execution. Bad strategies bear worse results.
Back to the (biblical) drawing board
After my frustrating failure to control my own tongue, God providentially introduced me to Jesus’ words in the gospel of Matthew:
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man (Matt. 15:19–20).
It’s been likewise said that the tongue is the bucket that dips down into the well of the heart and brings up whatever’s there. Thus, mine wasn’t a tongue problem as much as it was a heart problem. The solution wasn’t to control what was coming out as much as purify what was already inside.
A new strategy
Because of this God-given realization, my strategy for controlling the tongue changed dramatically. I now became dedicated to filling my mind and heart with things above rather than things below (Col. 3:2), trusting that, by God’s grace, if my tongue was dipping down into a more pure source I would then be able to unleash it rather than tame it. I would have to spend less time censoring myself and would be able to use my God-given quick tongue for his glory rather than his shame.
Obviously this included (and does still include) regular corporate worship, fellowship with mature brothers and sisters in Christ, and other staple spiritual disciplines (e.g., Bible reading, prayer). But there have been a number of other streams of input to which I’ve committed myself with diligence and intentionality:
Reading good books
Listening to good podcasts
Reading good blogs
Writing myself clear
In the brief series of posts ahead I will provide some resources, lists, and strategies concerning each of those streams. Each have changed, shifted, and have been honed over the years, so they are all very much a work in progress—hopefully maturing along with me! But the goal is always the same: The mind of Christ via thinking about the things of Christ.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Phil. 4:8).
- christian living
- book review
- church fathers