A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
When His disciples were concerned about defiling themselves with food, Jesus taught that what goes into the mouth cannot defile our lives. It’s what comes out of our mouths that defile us, for the mouth reveals what is in the heart.
The same is true for other areas of life. Have you had a thought pop into your head that offended you? You may have wondered how a Christian could conjure up a thought that is ungodly. The thoughts that go into our heads cannot defile us unless we receive them into our hearts. In a discussion a while back, a young man feared he had blasphemed the Holy Spirit because of a thought that entered his mind. And of course, the more he tried to not think of it, the more he thought of it. Such are the things of fear. When we’re afraid of something, we think about it. Telling a child not to think about the monster under the bed will have what effect?
Don’t be afraid of the thoughts that come in unannounced. They cannot defile you without your willing participation. It is the things we treasure in our hearts that either enrich or defile our lives.
Let’s use anger for an example. I use this a lot because so many of us struggle with this emotion. The Bible says, “Be angry, but do not sin.” Anger itself isn’t a sin. It’s what we do with anger that makes it a sin or not. Is it selfish anger, or a legitimate problem? Am I dealing with it constructively or destructively? Am I taking it into my heart, or dealing with it in a healthy way?
The truth is that I will treasure in my heart the things I value most. Once in my heart, my life will either be defiled or enriched. Look at our opening verse. Does the good man produce the good things that he brings forth? No. He (or she) has treasured these things in the heart so that they can be brought forth at the right time. But the person who stores evil things in the heart has nothing good to bring forth. Instead, when they need to bring something out of the heart, the only thing they find is evil. So they react in an evil way or give in to temptation. We can’t bring forth something that isn’t stored up.
This is why King David said, “Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” If we cherish the word, we’ll store the word in our heart. If we cherish joy, happiness, peace, and the other comforts of God, we’ll store these in our hearts. But if we enjoy anger, bitterness, sadness, and other negative feelings, we’ll cherish these in our hearts. I know because I’ve been there. I can remember mulling over offenses and cherishing them. I didn’t realize I was cherishing them, but I held on to them and studied them in my mind. Through my self-absorbed attitudes, I cherished these things in my heart and brought them forth in my life.
It doesn’t have to be this way. When something bothers you and I, we must evaluate it and determine if it needs to be addressed. Ninety-nine percent of the things that offend us are not worthy of our energy. As part of the evaluation process, we cast these out as rejected thoughts. We must not bottle them up, but deal with them. Rejecting an offense as silly is dealing with it. If an offense keeps dominating my thoughts, it must be dealt with. Either the situation must be addressed, or my attitude or focus needs to be addressed.
When we determine something needs to be addressed, it must be done constructively. Our attitude is to problem solve. If our reaction is a bigger problem than the offense, the problem cannot be solved. At least not until our negative behavior has first been resolved. Don’t bottle up feelings, deal with them. Don’t make your solution worse than the problem.
How we deal with problems is not determined when the problem occurs. It begins now. As you learn how to treasure good things in your heart, you will have good treasures to draw out when needed. What you store in your heart now is what will come out in your life later. Let go of the trash that defiles your heart. Instead, replace them with the word, good attitudes, and a focus on walking by faith. Someone who trusts God completely will react differently than someone who believes they must intervene to control life.
Begin house cleaning and make room for the true treasures God desires to store in your heart.