“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Jesus (Luke 6:45)
Each time that I cook dinner, I play music in the kitchen. My musical tastes are eclectic. Sometimes, I listen to Christian artists such as Wes King, Third Day, Andrew Peterson or J.J. Heller. Sometimes, I listen to classic country artists such as Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson. Sometimes, it’s classic folk artists such as James Taylor, Jackson Browne or John Hiatt. It all depends on my mood and what I need to hear at that moment.
One of the artists that I play regularly is Randy Newman. Besides his Toy Story soundtracks, Newman has recorded several songs that are fun to listen to and are entertaining. One of these songs is “Short People”. It’s a jarring song. In the song, Newman disparages short people and lists what he thinks is wrong with them. (Of course, this song is written as satire and wasn’t intended to actually mock short people.) There is a brief stanza in the song that talks about how short people are just like everyone else and how “all men are brothers until the day they die” that reflects Newman’s true feelings. The song has generated controversy and Newman has even grown to dislike the song because of the controversy that it generated.
As I listened to the song it struck me that the words we speak about and to others have great impact. Jesus knew this and often spoke about the importance of the things we say. Jesus knew that words carried weight and could build up or tear down. He also knew another truth that we sometimes fail to admit. The words that come out of our mouths flow out of the content of our hearts. The words that we share with others reflect the inner workings of what we are allowing to take residence in our hearts.
Newman wrote his song as a funny song that was obviously meant for satire and silliness. When people took it seriously and accused him of hating short people and boycotted his music, Newman was shocked. He forgot the lesson that Jesus taught. Our words have great importance and reflect our hearts. While he wrote his song as a joke, it was interpreted as a reflection of who he was.
It’s essential that, as followers of Christ, we protect and nurture our hearts so that what comes from them through our speech is encouraging and edifying for others. It’s vital that we focus on speaking the truth from a heart filled with the love of Christ. It’s important that our hearts launch words that will bring life and healing to a world that needs the light of Christ and the healing that only He can offer.
Words matter because our hearts matter. Let’s encourage and strengthen each other. Let’s strive to be a blessing to everyone (including the short people) around us. Let your hearts guide your words and let Christ be heard through you.