It is not a new concept: what goes in is what comes out.
Let’s think of it in terms of dogs. There is often debate about certain breeds of dogs and whether or not they are “safe.” Pit bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc., are often on this “naughty” list of dogs. And it’s true: sometimes these dogs are absolutely vicious. With the proper training, they can be killers.
But let’s say that you train your pit bull to be gentle. You discipline it to not act on it’s primal instincts. You raise it to be loving and kind, and it is. You create an environment that encourages gentleness instead of viciousness.
In other words, what you put into the dog is what you get out.
Humans are not so different. Our environment determines a lot about who we are and who we become. I’m sure we’ve all studied the whole nature vs. nurture idea. And no matter what side of the debate you fall on, no one can deny the power of environment.
Even as adults, our environment has power over our behaviors and attitudes. We may be “all grown up” as moms, but the daily things that fill our heads and our hearts really do shape our attitude, and therefore, the words we speak to our families.
Jesus addresses this idea in Matthew 12. Instead of referencing dogs, He uses fruit trees to get His point across. “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matt. 12:33-34, NLT).
I’d like to add on to this a bit. I also think that whatever is in your heart also determines how you say what you say.
The Greek word for “heart” here in this verse (kardias) means your thoughts or feelings. In other words, it’s referring to the true part of you, your soul, the things that make you you.
Makes sense right? For an apple tree cannot produce oranges because deep down, it’s an apple tree.
So let’s think of this in human terms, not in trees or dogs. If what is in our soul is rotten, what will come out? I’ll tell you what comes out of me: a bad attitude and harsh words.
So on my own, if I did nothing to tend my heart, everything that came out of my mouth would be no good. I could try my best, and sometimes my words might be kind, but I would keep reverting back to my rotten ways.
But, if I feed my soul the good stuff, I will speak out good stuff.
When I read the Bible and meditate on God’s truths, when I listen to praise and worship music, when I watch shows that honor God’s laws, when I surround myself with positive people that love God, I am filling my heart with good stuff.
All of these things are part of the environment that I can create. I can choose what I read, listen to, and watch. I can decide with whom I spend my time.
In short, I can control what goes into my heart. And that is exactly what we should be doing. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:23, NIV).
Friends, what we put into our hearts is what is going to come out of our mouths. It’s a fact of life and nature. If we want to improve our attitudes and our words, we have to improve what we put into our hearts.
Prayer: Dear Father, Please help me make wise choices about what I put into my heart. Help me to choose what is “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8). Please help me allow you to shape my environment, and in turn, my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.