Lips that praise/lips that curse


Reflections based on Matthew 15:1–20.

‘What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.’

Here Jesus is challenging the Pharisees and teachers of the law that had come to Him to try to trip Him up. He closely reflects what is said in Isaiah 29:13: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.’

What Jesus was trying to get across to them was that worship is not about just paying lip service. He explains that it is what comes out of a person’s lips that makes them unclean because it is out of the overflow of his heart that a man speaks. This is a sobering thought and prompts me to ask – what are you like when no one is looking? In church, even at work, we can put on a show of behaving like Christians and yet, behind closed doors, the reality can be very different. Ironically, the one that we profess to follow and worship sees it all – and knows us to the very depths of our beings. What He wants from us is a walk of worship that is full of integrity day in day out.

‘Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.’ (James 3:10) This verse reveals to me that part of our daily worship is to keep a check on our tongues, possibly because I know it is an area that I need to work on further! Words of healing but also words that cut and hurt can come out of the very same mouth at various times in a day, but here we are being reminded that there is something vitally wrong with this.

Prayer: Use the following psalm as a prayer. ‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.’ (Psalm 19:14)