November 13, 2007

"Out of the abundance of the heart"

Brigham Young February 24, 1856 Words are powerful, though our language, as it is, is imperfect and leaves much to be desired. The gift of tongues, in my opinion, involves not only the ability to speak other or unknown languages, but to speak one's own in the best possible, and most appropriate way. In addition to being powerful, our words can be revealing. In one New Testament account, Jesus Christ made this profound declaration:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh (Luke 6:45).
In a rather heated discourse on why local lawyers were angering Brigham Young, he made a similar statement regarding the words we speak. Brigham had an unusual method of ascertaining the state of any particular member or government official. He would very occasionally invite individuals to speak in the Tabernacle if their loyalty was somewhat questionable. This allowed him to hear them out in public, and he believed it would verify their honesty, or lack of it. From there, he could see where the person stood:
We can form some kind of an idea how a man feels by looking at him, but if you wish a man to portray himself faithfully you must get him to talk, and I will insure that the organs of speech will show out the true state of the mind, sooner or later, and reveal the fruit of his heart. No man can hide it if he is allowed to talk; he will be sure to manifest his true feelings... Men will portray what is in their hearts, when they talk freely, and they cannot keep from it. This is the way in which the Lord will exhibit the hearts of the children of men. Will He take out their hearts and show them to the people? No, for that would not exhibit the fruit of their hearts; but He will draw them into circumstances which will compel them to manifest what is in them. Let a man rise up here and talk, and freely express his thoughts, and you can judge of what spirit he is (Journal of Discourses 3:246).
It would do us all well to consider what we say, and how it reflects on who we really are on the inside. In the April 2007 General Conference, Elder Jeffery R. Holland devoted his entire address to the subject of keeping our tongues in check.[1] He quoted the epistle of James, saying:
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:2).
Elder Holland continued:
The voice that bears profound testimony, utters fervent prayer, and sings the hymns of Zion can be the same voice that berates and criticizes, embarrasses and demeans, inflicts pain and destroys the spirit of oneself and of others in the process. "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing," James grieves. "My brethren [and sisters], these things ought not so to be" [see James 3:2-10].
Evaluate yourself with the questions Elder Holland recommended to all the saints:
Is this something we could all work on just a little? Is this an area in which we could each try to be a little more like a "perfect" man or woman?
Footnotes: [1] "The Tongue of Angels," Elder Jeffery R. Holland, April 2007 General Conference.

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