When All is Stripped Away, What Remains?

Matthew 12: 34b for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

Post game coach and player interviews are one of the oldest professional sports traditions.  While the actual game or event are the main course, the post game interview has to be the dessert.  It can’t be easy to have microphones thrown in your face, especially immediately following a tough loss, but in professional sports, it comes with the territory.  I have heard good things about NHL coach John Tortorella, a.k.a. Torts, (especially from player interviews), but when it comes to post game interviews, they are something else.  Do a YouTube search of “John Tortorella interview” and you will find no shortage of colorful exchanges with reporters.  It seems impossible for a reporter to ask a question that Torts doesn’t find dismissively stupid.  If I hadn’t heard positive player reviews of Torts, and had to simply assess the man based on post-game interviews, he comes across as arrogant, bitter and angry.  I don’t know the man, so I can’t claim those things to be true, but by the words he speaks, this is what I and most others hear.

I had the privilege of attending the funeral of an elderly family friend, Elsa Jabs, who went home to the Lord.  My mom and her mom were related so our families grew up together sharing amazing times.  My memories of Elsa are of her beautiful smile, her big hugs and the genuine interest she expressed when she spoke to me.  In recent years she suffered from Alzheimer’s and was not the person she once was, but what astounded me was what remained.  I had the privilege of visiting her at the nursing home a number of times in her last years of life and, although her memories were quite jumbled, she continued to speak words of life.  Although often confined to a small room, she was grateful for what she had and the people around her.  She spoke about the word of God and she wanted to hear about my parents and to send them love.  At her funeral service, her daughter was told that when other residents were crying out in a foyer, she would consistently be the one who would roll over her wheelchair to embrace them and speak life over them.

In today’s scripture passage from Matthew 12, Jesus heals a demon-possessed, blind and mute man.  While this should have been a time of celebration, the religious elite, the Pharisees, attributed this miracle to the devil.  Jesus took the opportunity to point out that this made no sense: “If Satan drives out Satan, he is dived against himself.” (vs. 26)  He also brought to light that God is far more interested in what people really are, rather than outward appearances, and you determine who you are by the fruit that you bear.

33 “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. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  (Matthew 12: 33-35)

Another Bible translation of Matthew 12:34b says: “for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  If the Lord allows you to reach an old age and your strength has been zapped and your mind ravaged, what will remain in your heart?  If, as Jesus says, a good person “brings good things…stored up in them”, what will be left in you?  Paul, in Romans 3:10 says that “there is no one righteous, not even one”, so clearly the only true “good” that we can have inside of us has to be the only “good” one, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Is Jesus Christ permeating your body, your soul your mind?  You will know this by what comes out of your mouth.  “for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

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