In Psalm 15:1-3 we see who is going to live in God’s house and who is not.
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in they holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.”
We’ve got parallel lists of behavior here. The wise walks, works, and speaks, and these actions are characterized by uprightness, righteousness, and truth. What he is not doing is important here as well. He is speaking the truth in his heart, not backbiting; he is working out righteousness, not doing evil; and he is walking uprightly, not taking up a reproach or grievance against his neighbor. This is the kind of company God keeps. If we want to dwell in His holy hill, we have to see and keep these do’s and don’ts, particularly as it relates to our tongues.
What is it to backbite? It is to spread slander; to be a tattler and a busybody, spinning the story to make someone look worse, attributing motives. This kind of thing always begins in the heart before it works its way out the mouth. From there it picks up and carries a grievance, and then, if not stopped, it begins crusading, gathering others to carry the grievance as well. It does evil to its neighbor. But it doesn’t just affect the neighbor who is being wronged; it infects and destroys those with the grievance, hurting them far worse than the neighbor they sought to destroy. God hates this stuff.
But those who speak the truth in their hearts are not interested in slandering, running down, grumbling and complaining about their neighbors. They recognize this stuff for what it is and agree with God about it. They want no part of it any more than they would want to expose themselves to an infectious disease. It is rot.
But what is this Truth and how do we speak it in our hearts?
Here’s a fly-by summary of just a few things the Bible says about Truth: God is the God of Truth, His word is Truth, His law is Truth, Jesus said He is the Truth, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth; we are to gird our waists with the Truth, love the Truth, speak the Truth, and be of the Truth, for the Truth is in us.
We are to be speakers of the Truth and this Truth is in our hearts. God is the very essence of all Truth. And the Bible tells us that Satan is the father of all lies. If we listen to lies, if we allow them to take up residence in our hearts, then we will begin speaking them aloud as well. If we listen to the Truth, we will speak the Truth in our hearts. And it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. So, if we are complaining and backbiting in our hearts, it will be just a few moments before we are speaking such things with our lips. From there we take up evil actions.
So here is a suggestion. Pay attention to what is going on in your heart. What kind of conversation are you listening to? Is it the Truth? Are you listening and believing lies? Or are you speaking the Truth in your heart?
So let’s apply this. If you wake up in the morning and start speaking to yourself about how no one appreciates you, how you have such a hard life, how the weather is bad, and how sad you feel, how your friends have wronged you (you get the idea), you are not speaking the Truth. You are being set up! But if you dismiss those thoughts and replace them with words about God’s goodness and graciousness, words of gratitude for His preservation and kindness toward you, you are speaking the Truth.
We often don’t realize how much bad dope we are listening to in our hearts. And this steady stream of stuff has an impact, leading us to take up a reproach against a neighbor, and that neighbor could be our husband, our parents, our children.Â We must reject such foul heart-talk, and replace it, speaking the Truth day-in and day-out. This is obviously directly connected to walking uprightly and working righteousness. It all begins in the heart and works its way out. So if you’ve been wondering why you’ve been having trouble staying on the righteous path, do a heart and mouth check first.