When I read today’s verse, I immediately thought of the phrase “you are what you eat”. I realize that there is little connection between today’s verse and the phrase but lateIy I’ve been working hard to eat better and well; I digress. Leaders of all kinds must choose their words carefully. One of the most powerful tools a leader has is encouragement. There are so many stresses in people’s lives, in addition to their struggles to do the best work they can, that they often feel overwhelmed or simply disconnected from others. We rarely hear “good job” from the people we work with or those close to us. Sometimes, we are just too busy to say it or we don’t take the time to. For leaders, that can be a disaster. We have to acknowledge our people and the work that they do for us – even if it’s “their job”. A simple “thanks” or “nice work” can go a long way in motivating someone. We don’t know what is happening in their lives and this simple gesture can be what keeps them going. I used to work for a woman who did this all the time. At first, I was surprised to hear it because no one in military style organizations ever gives a compliment. It reminded me that I was doing good work and that someone appreciated it. The old saying is that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all”. If you never say anything nice or encouraging, then are people walking around thinking that you have nothing nice to say? It’s what comes out of your mouth that means more than what you think or write about someone. Well said is better than well written. Spread a little good will and watch the smiles. Then smile yourself, knowing that you were the cause.
“What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’” Matthew 15:11
This was Jesus speaking to the Pharisees when they saw the Disciples eating with dirty hands. But that isn’t where the story stopped. I usually don’t add more bible verses to the weekly devotion but it seems to fit here. In Matthew 15:17-20, Jesus went on to say: 17“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”
We have to ask ourselves here: what’s in our hearts? Do you go through your life with the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude? In the end, we are all “unclean”. Every one of us will say something hurtful, have immoral thoughts about stealing or wishing harm on to someone, gossiping and in some cases, we’ll act on them. We are all guilty at one point in time or another; we are unclean. The good news is that Jesus Christ wrapped us in pure white clothing when he took our sins with Him to the cross. He made us clean for all of eternity through our faith in Christ. God knows what is in our hearts and hears what comes out of our mouths, yet He has cleansed us and given us eternal life. No tricks, no works, no negotiations, simply forgiveness given to us from the grace of God. Now that should make you smile!