“Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Ever wonder where the phrase “a little bird told me” came from?
All day long we see people and have thoughts about them. We can’t help it. They come to us almost before we even realize what is happening. These snap judgments may be kind and charitable, but they also may not be. In fact, for most of us, they’re not more often than they are.
When we are young, we tend to let all of these thoughts out without much thinking about how they might be received. I suspect you’ve had the oh-so-enjoyable experience of being around a three-year-old with volume control issues and a lot of curiosity about the person he sees in the store who doesn’t look like he does, or who simply decided to share what is currently rambling through the funhouse of his mind. I recently read a Facebook post from a cousin (who’s been married for several years), who shared that her four-year-old recently asked at full volume (in Walmart because, where else?), “Mommy! When are you going to marry Daddy?!?”
As we grow, we gradually learn to develop a filter between our brain and our mouth. There are some thoughts you share in public, while there are others you keep to yourself until later. This is how mature grown-ups behave. If they think ugly things about the people around them, they wait until they are back home to share those thoughts with people who are safe (i.e., not going to tell).
And yet, the very fact that we are having these thoughts in the first place is actually the real problem here. What we need is not a well-developed filter to make sure we don’t embarrass ourselves by publicly airing the judgmental and hurtful things we naturally think about the people we see out and about who don’t fit our stereotype of socially acceptable for some reason. In fact, the more well developed our filter is, the bigger a real problem we have.
Rather, what we need is a more gracious and generous spirit that does not even produce such thoughts in the first place. Good is not hurting others by sharing our ugly thoughts. Better is not having the ugly thoughts in the first place.
Here’s why: Our thinking influences our behavior. We speak and act from out of the overflow of our heart. If we carry around a heart that is judgmental, jealous, petty, small-minded, cynical, racist, or any one of a number of other unrighteous things, we are only going to keep them under wraps for so long. Even the best filter is eventually going to crack and we are going to be left eating a big bowl of foot stew. But, if we don’t have the ugliness there in the first place, we don’t need the filter. See how it works?
As followers of Jesus, we need to allow His Holy Spirit to work in us to gradually transform our heart to be more like His. We need to stick close to Him, hiding His words deeply in our heart so that they can sprout and take root and grow to drive out the sinfulness that otherwise occupies that place. Then these thoughts won’t be there in the first place and we won’t ever have to fear them causing unintentional harm to the people around us. Instead, we’ll be the cause of unintentional blessing. By just our thoughts we will be more gracious in our behavior, serving as an effective invitation to the kingdom of God. Life is better when we don’t have to spend it cleaning up the messes of a sin-cluttered heart and mind.