But...it's not really dentists we are talking about, it's the great Physician and our dark hearts. He too warns what's happens when he looks into our wide open mouths.
"You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." (Matthew 12:34)
It's not really that difficult, Jesus is saying. As the great Physician he is telling us he, and in fact anyone, can look straight into our heart just by listening to what we are talking about. No amount of moral makeup, teeth whitening platitudes will hide the secrets within. For as soon as we relax, as soon as we are with friends and family, we will talk and reveal our heart.
This is a sobering question. We need to consider what our heart reveals about ourselves, as this is one of the most useful insights we can ever get.
In life it's easy to have an opinion of others. And that is simply because we don't live their life. So we have some sense of perspective. Some sense of objectivity. We can see what their issues are.
However when it comes to ourselves there is a problem. We can never escape our own lives. We can never really be objective. And so when it comes to ourselves we can never really be insightful. And how useful it would be if we could really see ourselves as other "objective" people see us. Can we?
Jesus suggests that we can - that we can see ourselves for who we are.
The dentist test
"A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." (Luke 6:45)
Grab a pen/keyboard/phone...whatever and answer these questions.
- Write down three things you have criticized others of in the past week or so. If you can't remember then think about each of your friends/acquaintances, one at a time, and what you think they are doing wrong...even if you have not vocalized it. Write that down.
- Now take each of these and think of Jesus speaking to you. For each one he is saying this your weakness.
- Ponder how this could be your weakness and how you could improve.
- Pray over your list asking Jesus to help you.
It's a startling reality that we do criticise others of the things that are or were our issues. Why? Well quite simply we are aware and sensitized to these things. So it is no surprise that we notice them in others. What is the surprise is that they are actually a reflection of our own inner weakness and issues that we are often unaware of.
"How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:4)
Being too loving?
Being too legalistic?
Being too hard?
Being too soft?
Being in the dark?
Being ignorant of important truths?
And so Jesus concludes his warning about our open mouths being a mirror into our hearts...
"But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
"mouth empty, boastful words…who promise freedom, while they themselves are slaves" (2 Peter 2:17-21)
"fitting words which are is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." (Prov 25:11)