Impartation of Me: Out of the Overflow of the Heart the Mouth Speaks
Richard Y. Lee | APRIL 10, 2019 | 4 MIN READ
Good music is more than mere notes drawn on staves. Adding expression and following dynamic marks help the performer to play with the intent of the composer. Then in the performance, every note played or sung is colored by the musician’s experiences, not to mention his or her physical, mental, or emotional state.
It is such that no two singers can sing the same song exactly the same. Even if a person is able to accomplish such replication, it is imitation at best, and the imitator is often criticized for not having his or her own soul in the performance. Somehow in the voice that sings a note, there is yet another “self” or voice within.
So, when a performer is able to express and communicate the voice within the voice it becomes true artistry at work (as subjective as this may be).
The Voice Behind the Tongue
I recently finished preaching through James 3, and I was reminded again of the power of the tongue. James doesn’t dumb down or dilute this organ’s potency by any measure and, in fact, we see its repercussions in the world today.
As much as written words hold power and influence the course of history, spoken words seem to have greater impact. In spoken words there is identity; another voice behind the words. Put another way, the spoken word is an impartation of a person to the listener. It contains the heart and soul of the person. That is why an empty promise and vain flattery are devastating to those that hold on to them -- they have no intrinsic value and are worthless.
When James describes tongue, he uses the imagery of a bit in horse’s mouth and a rudder in a large ship. By themselves, bits and rudders have no power. However, when a jockey puts a bit into a horse or a sailor takes control of a rudder, this powerful animal and large ship can be controlled or a course can be determined.
In the same way, as James writes, tongue may be a small part, but can boast of great things (3:5), and the will, the intention, and the heart of a person are the command center that ultimately control the tongue.
The tongue is a powerful instrument and can affect many lives for the better, but often for worse. As James points out, “with it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (Jas. 3:9). Clearly there is an undeniable conflict, and it is not conflict that is from outside of us, but from the very inner core of our being -- a heart broken and marred by sin.
Jesus’ statement confirms James’ words; “It is not what goes inside a man that defiles a man, but what comes out of his mouth (Matt. 15:11),” and “It is out of the overflow of one’s heart that mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).”
The trouble of our hurtful words is much deeper than words themselves, as James writes… “no one can tame the tongue; it is restless evil and full of poison.” What automatically comes out of us is toxic and destructive, unless God redemptively transforms it.
Transformation of the heart cannot be self-generated because the root cause that needs to be addressed is at the very core of a person. Therefore the work of transforming has to be done by something outside of ourselves. We are in need of inoculation of God’s transforming grace to treat the soul-rotting virus of sin. The external help or cure is found in Jesus’ blood and righteousness, which makes a sinner’s filthy heart as white as snow (Psalm 51:10; Isaiah 1:18; Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:13-14).
A transformed heart springs forth true godliness displaying heavenly wisdom. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).
Therefore, it is critical and absolutely necessary for all to cling to this truth and promise. We must lean completely on Jesus Christ for His transformative grace to change us from within, so that our speech, our words, and our impartation of ourselves to others will be one that will build up and heal, not tear down and kill.
The Tongue Transformed
When a performer has a breakthrough moment, the audience is moved to tears and applause, not only because the music itself was superb, but there was inexplicable magic in the tone and timbre of the voice. The voice within the voice was heard, and it was beautiful.
No matter how eloquently and logically impeccable the thoughts and logic of my heart may be, without a heart transformed by the grace of God my words may only become a noisy gong and even destructive.
So let us all have transformed hearts, so that our tongues can be used to edify and restore.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published here. It has been updated and republished here with permission from the author.
Richard Y. Lee is formerly a bi-vocational pastor of Pathway Bible Church and currently works at UCLA. He has been married to Judy for 20 yrs this May, and is the father of two beautiful girls. He is currently an active member at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita, leading one of the Adult Sunday School classes and leading men's discipleship group. He also helps out with the worship team when possible.