Overflow of the heart

SERMON TOPIC: Overflow of the heart

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 24 March 2013


Sermon synopsis: Matt 12:33-37 Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

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Matt 12:33-37 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”


Words have power. In the Bible it is the word of God that speaks the world into existence and creates all creatures and human beings.

Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Our words also have power (and I’m not referring to positive confession here). And so we are told:

Prov 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death…

With our careless words we can build people up or tear them down. We can also build up the kingdom of God or tear it down with our gossip and slander.


Watch your thoughts, they become your words.

Watch your words, they become your actions.

Watch your actions, they become your habits.

Watch your habits, they become your character.

Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

The mouth is the overflow of the heart

Matt 12:33-34 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

James 3:9-12 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt a water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.


You cannot bump a glass of water and spill poison:

Rom 3:13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

James 3:8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

“Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter.” - Samuel J. Hurwitt

Jesus is telling us that if poison comes out our mouth, it was in the heart first.


And so we struggle to keep a rein on our tongues, because they are simply an outlet for what is already in our heart.

James 3:2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

James 3:7-8 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue…



Gossip is similar to slander, but is done in secret. And so gossipers often begin their dialogue with:

“Don’t tell a soul about this…”

“Keep this confidential…”

“Just between you and me…”

“You didn’t hear this from me…”

“I don’t mean to be nasty, but…” (they then proceed to be nasty)


Gossip originating in Christian circles may take a more subtle form.

This is simply coming from a heart of concern. I have a prayer request for Felicity, but keep it between the Lord and you.

Now of course none of us are guilty of ever gossiping. But just in case you know someone who is a gossip, let’s look at it from a Biblical perspective.

Why is it that when we talk about others, it’s discussion, but when they talk about us it’s gossip?

Apparently Joe told Sue that Emily heard from Bill that Anne saw Nancy and Marie and they told her that Stacey was gossiping about us. Can you believe that they have nothing better to do with their time?

Now gossip is very enjoyable. It’s nice to talk or hear about others (especially people we dislike) and their failings. Somehow focussing on other’s failures makes us feel better by comparison.


Prov 18:8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.

“Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everybody enjoys.” - Joseph Conrad

But the effects of gossip are immense:

It destroys relationships:

Prov 16:28b … a gossip separates close friends.

Destroys people’s reputations:

Prov 11:9a With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbour…

Samson destroyed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Some have destroyed almost as many reputations with the same weapon.


And so, though small, our tongues do great damage:

James 3:3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.

James 3:4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

James 3:5-6 Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Often the damage cannot be undone:

“Of all the sins which a human is capable, none is so easy to commit [as back-biting], none so difficult to repair.” - Claude de la Colombiere

The story is told of a young Christian man who was always slandering an older fellow Christian.


On hearing that the old man was on his deathbed, he felt remorseful and went to pay him a visit in order to apologise. The old man readily forgave the younger man, but he requested that he grant him a favour.

“Please cut up my feather pillow here, then go to the window and shake all the feathers out into the wind”.

The young fellow thought it was a strange request but gladly obliged. The old man then requested that he came visit him the following day.

When he arrived, the old man said, “I have one last request. Won’t you please go outside and pick up all those feathers and put them back into the pillow-case.”

“But”, protested the younger man, “by now the wind has carried them all away.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “it’s easy to scatter the feathers but almost impossible to get them back.”

So it is with gossip; it doesn’t take much to spread hurtful words, but once you do, you can never completely undo the damage.



Associated with idle (i.e. having nothing to do) people:

1 Tim 5:13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.

By attacking a person in secret, it is an act of cowardice:

“It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenceless one.” - Lawrence G. Lovasik

We should rather speak to the person directly:

Matt 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”


How to counteract gossip:

Gossip requires an audience so don’t listen to it:

Prov 26:20a Without wood a fire goes out…

“You cannot stop people’s tongues, and therefore the best thing to do is to stop your own ears and never mind what is spoken.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Counteract gossip with positive statements:

Our gossip can tear apart even the closest friends. Make an effort to bring up something good about a person every time that you hear a negative comment and try to refrain from making negative comments yourself. - Streams of Light

Don’t believe or repeat gossip

“For such is the weakness of human nature, alas, that evil is often more readily believed and spoken of another than good. But perfect men do not easily believe every tale that is told them, for they know that man’s nature is prone to evil, and his words to deception.” - Thomas Kempis


Don’t betray a confidence in order to make yourself look better or to justify your actions:

Prov 25:9 If you argue your case with a neighbour, do not betray another man’s confidence

Don’t confide in someone who talks too much and too freely – or you may become the target of their gossip:

Prov 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

Prov 11:12-13 A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbour, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.


Don’t think it’s okay to repeat malicious talk, just because you’re certain it’s true.

“Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.” - Frank Howard Clark

Before passing on a story, consider the following:

T - Is it true?

H - Is it helpful?

I - Is it inspiring?

N - Is it necessary?

K - Is it kind?


Pray for your enemies

Matt 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

“Notice, we never pray for folks we gossip about, and we never gossip about the folk for whom we pray! For prayer is a great deterrent.” - Leonard Ravenhill


Love your neighbour as yourself

“If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” – (Amy Carmichael – 20th century missionary to India)

Gal 5:14-15 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.


Q: What is the difference between gossip and slander?

Gossip is idle chatter, slander is deliberately malicious.

Gossip is in secret, slander is often public.

Slander is the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame or damage another’s reputation. In the legal realm this is referred to as libel or defamation.

Slander is the revenge of a coward, and dissimulation his defence. (Dissimulation is a form of deception in which one conceals the truth. It consists of concealing the truth, or in the case of half-truths, concealing parts of the truth.)



Lev 19:16 Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

1 Pet 2:2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice … and slander of every kind.

Eph 4:31 Get rid of all … slander, along with every form of malice.

Titus 2:3 Likewise, teach the older women … not to be slanderers …

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people … to slander no one…

Prov 10:18b … whoever spreads slander is a fool.


Do not slander fellow church members or leaders especially in front of unbelievers:

1 Tim 5:19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses

Do not slander your government rulers:

Acts 23:4-5 Those who were standing near Paul said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”


It’s not our prerogative to judge:

James 4:11-12 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you - who are you to judge your neighbour?



Destroys people

“Slander slays three persons: the speaker, the spoken to, and the spoken of” Hebrew Proverb

Destroys churches

“More churches have been destroyed by the accuser of the brethren and its faultfinding than by either immorality or misuse of church funds. So prevalent is this influence in our society that, among many, faultfinding has been elevated to the status of a ‘ministry’!” - Francis Frangipane


Will be judged by God

Psalm 15:1-3 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbour no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,

Ps 101:5 Whoever slanders his neighbour in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.


Will not inherit the kingdom of God

1 Cor 6:9-10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Rom 1:29-32… They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death…


We must disassociate ourselves from professing Christians who are slanderers:

1 Cor 5:11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

2 Tim 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be … slanderous… having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.


Some professing Christians speak no differently than unbelievers.

Col 3:7-8 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Rom 3:13-14 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit” … “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

Swearing is the crutch of the conversational cripple.


Obscenity or coarse joking

Eph 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Prov 4:24 Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.



Col 3:9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices

Hated by God

Prov 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: … a lying tongue … a false witness who pours out lies…

But mastered and practiced by Satan

John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil… not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.


Perjury forbidden

Prov 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.


Flattery is complimenting people with an ulterior motive in mind:

Jude 16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

“Flattery and insults raise the same question: What do you want?” - Mason Cooley

A flattering mouth works ruin - Prov 26:28


There’s nothing more tiring than a person who is always talking about themselves and their achievements. People run when they see someone like that coming towards them:

Prov 27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.

“Don’t talk about yourself; it will be done when you leave.” - Wilson Mizner


But enough of me talking about me, now you talk about me.

It was because of grumbling that God was angry with the Israelites in the wilderness:

Num 14:27-29 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall - every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.”

1 Cor 10:10-11 And do not grumble, as some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come.


We too will be judged if we are always grumbling and complaining:

James 5:9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

Sometime we do the right things but grumble about doing them:

1 Pet 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Phil 2:14-15 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe


Four of the cruelest people in the world are:

a healthy person jeering at an invalid

the wealthy laughing at the poor

the intelligent mocking a simple person

a young person making fun of the elderly

Mocking others, even behind their backs, destroys our capacity to respect them when we speak face to face.


“While the laughter of joy is in full harmony with our deeper life, the laughter of amusement should be kept apart from it. The danger is too great of thus learning to look at solemn things in a spirit of mockery, and to seek in them opportunities for exercising wit.” - Lewis Carroll

Prov 22:10-11 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended. He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.


Don’t argue with a fool – they’ll drag you down to their level and then beat you on experience.

Prov 20:3 It is to a man’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

So a fool loves confrontation and quarrelling:

Prov 17:19a He who loves a quarrel loves sin

People try and avoid a quarrelsome person:

Prov 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Prov 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.


Q: How do you stop a quarrel?

“A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two.” - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“It takes two to quarrel, but only one to end it.” - Matthew Prior


And the Bible tells us the best way to stop a quarrel is not to start it in the first place.

Prov 17:14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

What causes quarrelling?

PRIDE - Prov 13:10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

COVETOUSNESS - James 4:1-2 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

WORLDLINESS - 1 Cor 3:3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?


Some Christians like to quarrel about controversial topics:

Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

2 Tim 2:14b Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

1 Tim 6:4b He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions

And Christians leaders must not be quarrelsome:

1 Tim 3:2-3 Now the overseer must be … gentle, not quarrelsome…


2 Pet 2:10-12 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand…

Jude 8-10 In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand…



We should overlook insults

Prov 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

“You are confronted again and again with the choice of letting God speak or letting your wounded self cry out. Although there has to be a place where you can allow your wounded part to get the attention it needs, your vocation is to speak from the place in you where God dwells.” - Henri J. M. Nouwen


We should return blessings for insults:

Luke 6:8 bless those who curse you…

Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

1 Pet 3:9-10 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.

Be gentle in your responses:

Prov 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


Don’t talk too much

Prov 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Prov 20:19b … avoid a man who talks too much.

“In general those who have nothing to say contrive to spend the longest time in doing it.” - James Russell Lowell


Rather we should guard our lips:

Prov 13:3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

Prov 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.


Try listening more and speaking less:

“God has given us two ears, but one tongue, to show that we should be swift to hear, but slow to speak. God has set a double fence before the tongue, the teeth and the lips, to teach us to be wary that we offend not with our tongue.” - Thomas Watson


Think before you speak:

Prov 29:20 Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

We should be quick to listen and slow to speak:

James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry


The Lord has enriched our speaking

1 Cor 1:5 For in him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge

So we should try build one another up with our speech:

Eph 4:29 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.

Quote Scripture and spiritual songs:

Eph 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.


Prov 12:25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” - Mother Teresa

“Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips.” - Blaise Pascal

“Cold words freeze people, and hot words scorch them, and bitter words make them bitter, and wrathful words make them wrathful. Kind words also produce their image on men’s souls; and a beautiful image it is. They smooth, and quiet, and comfort the hearer. They shame him out of his sour, morose, unkind feelings. We have not yet begun to use kind words in such abundance as they ought to be used.” - Blaise Pascal


Speak up for those who cannot defend themselves:

Prov 31:8-9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.


Encourage others:

Acts 20:2 He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece

Bring healing with your words:

Prov 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Prov 15:4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Prov 10:11a The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…


Impart spiritual knowledge:

Prov 20:15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

Prov 15:2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

Prov 16:23 A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.

Prov 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.


Speak the truth:

Eph 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body.

But do so in love:

Eph 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.


Witnessing about Jesus should be the natural overflow of the heart:

Acts 3:20 “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Don’t quarrel, but instruct gently

2 Tim 2:23-25 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth


Your speech should be seasoned with salt. Be gracious to unbelievers.

Col 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Resolve to be an example to others

1 Tim 4:12b … set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

We are ambassadors – we speak on behalf of Christ. So speak as if speaking the very words of God

1 Pet 4:11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.


Always remember that we will be judged by our words:

Matt 12:36-37 “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

So be gracious, kind and show mercy to others in your speech; one day you’ll require mercy when you are judged:

James 2:2 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!



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