My mother has washed my mouth out with soap on more than one occasion. Of course my parents came from a time when this was acceptable and they believed that what came out of your mouth mattered.
Today this practice is probably less common, and maybe even frowned upon, but I would argue that what comes out of your mouth still matters. What each one of us says or does makes a difference—whether good or bad.
In Mark 7:14-15 (NIV), Jesus told the crowd around Him, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean’.”
We are certainly influenced by exposure to bad things, but the reality is that the truly bad things in this world can all be traced back to us, to mankind. So Jesus points out something that may seem obvious to us—what we say and do really matter.
The Bible teaches us that man is not inherently “good.” God created mankind to be “good” but our separation from God has changed our core nature to be “bad” so that what normally comes out of us leans toward selfish ambition. Part of the good news of the gospel is that Jesus’ work creates the ability for us to be transformed back into the “good” creation God intended for us in the first place. By this transformation we become more able to reflect God’s image into all of creation. That means that we are able (by His grace and power) to say and do things that bring good into the world.
God tells the Prophet Jeremiah that, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV). If our hearts are deceitful, then what comes out of us will be as well. But for the one who trusts in Jesus, God says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:25-26 NIV). Through the Holy Spirit, God transforms our hearts and changes us from the inside out.
While God’s power through the Holy Spirit allows for this, we are still capable of resisting it. For this reason Paul warns the Christian Church at Ephesus, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:29-30 NIV).
What comes out of your mouth? How do your words and actions reflect the beauty and love of God to others? Do they build up or tear down? They are not static, they do make a difference, and they do affect us. Maybe we would do better if we would listen to the Holy Spirit and consider what it is that comes out of us, in both word and deed. If it was up to my mamma, there would be a lot of people eating soap; thanks be to Jesus that we can be cleansed by grace instead.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet at 9 a.m. Sundays for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!