“People are like tea bags – you don’t know how strong they are until you put them into hot water”
Sri Lanka is famous for its Ceylon Tea. To the average Sri Lankan, tea isn’t tea unless the tea leaves (the loose leaves are preferred to the tea bags!) are allowed to steep in hot water before adding the remainder ingredients. It’s difficult to know the strength of the tea until it has been left in the hot water. Of course, one can ‘gauge’ what each type of tea would be like based on the fragrance… However, it’s the hot water that will bring out the flavor of the tea. Tepid water just won’t do the job!
Our personalities are tested, our true characters show when we are in difficult situations, whether in danger of being criticized or not! The “real” side of our personalities is revealed when tested.
Jesus rebukes the religious leaders pretty harshly:
Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks – Matthew 12:34 (NKJV)
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (NIV)
The Greek term that is translated as ‘evil’ in the verse above is defined as follows:
hurtful, that is, evil (properly in effect or influence), which thus takes the meaning of: “bad, evil, grievous, harm, lewd, malicious, wicked (-ness)”.
On the other hand the word “good” is translated from the term that takes the meaning of
benefit, good (-s, things), well”.
When we are “in hot water” or “in a soup”, what comes out of our mouths? How do our bodies act? Are our words and actions evil or in other words are they hurtful, do they cause harm, are they malicious or are they words of wickedness? Or our words still “good’ that benefit others or words that are well spoken?
Going back to what Jesus said above, He compares the religious leaders to a brood of vipers which are poisonous snakes. The context of the verse:
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. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
If we are unable to say anything good and are able to say only evil things, that our fruit is bad and only a bad tree will bring about bad fruit. What is stored in us is what comes out. Having said all this Jesus warns us that for every empty word, for every idle, worthless word we will have to give account on judgment day.
This passage should urge us to be aware of what comes out of our HEARTS when put in ‘hot water’ situations. We cannot blame the other person for provoking us as it is clear that “an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him”. It is vital as a believer to let God search our hearts. Are we saying we are walking in God or are we truly walking in God? Are we rooted in the vine of Jesus? Or by empty words are we claiming to be walking with Him? We may be able to fool ourselves and perhaps others but we can’t fool God. He says “a tree is recognized by its fruit”.
Jesus also said,
“What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” – Mark 7:20-23
If we are walking in darkness then we can indeed be full of fear that evil thoughts (as listed above) will come from inside us. However, if we are being led by the Spirit and thus walking in the light, what comes from within, will be in line of the nature of God. Compare the “evil thoughts” above with the fruit of the Spirit! The former are centered around “myself” while the latter is centred around others.
Yes, we have all sinned and will stumble along the way. However the fruit of the Spirit will be increasingly evident as we walk deeper and deeper with our Father.
Not only should we test ourselves and be harmless as doves, but we are also to be as wise as serpents.
We are warned in the Bible that there will be many false prophets and false teachers in the “last days”. It is crucial that we learn to discern the spirit. A few people came to Jesus and said “Lord, Lord” but Jesus told them to get away from Him. They tried to remind Him that they did all this “wonderful” stuff – from casting out demons to prophesying etc in the name of Jesus! Yet He rebukes them as “evil doers” as He doesn’t “KNOW” them. What would Jesus tell you if you went to Him today saying “Lord Lord”.
Being a Christian isn’t about ministry… but rather it is ag relationship with God, a deep intimacy with the Father. Having said that, out of a relationship with God, ministry – in other words love – will automatically flow out… Love for God and love for each other… By our love for one another Jesus says we will be known as His disciples. Are we today living in fear of ‘evil thoughts’ and boxing ourselves in? Or are we reaching out in love knowing that if we are walking in God, evil thoughts will not come out of our hearts?
If we are rooted in God, our hearts will automatically resonate in being Kingdom minded, to further His Kingdom (not ours) and to strengthen the Kingdom by mutual equipping the Body of Christ, other believers.