What’s on the Inside (James 3:2)

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (James 3:2, ESV)

Pizza Hut came out with a commercial to go along with their $5’N Up Lineup of food products. The commercial featured a man breaking open what they called a Meaty P’Zone, (Pizza Hut’s version of a calzone), and saying, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Well, this is certainly true when it comes to calzones. The expression, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” is not a new thought. It refers to something deeper that is not seen on the outside. The sentiment is that what is truly important is not that which is seen on the outside, but that which comes from within.

Yet, what we see often on the outside comes from the inside. James hits this fact head-on. He indicated that what we say is closely connected to how we conduct our lives. In fact, he stated that a person who does not stumble in what he says is a person capable of keeping his entire body on the straight path. Now, when we consider this a bit deeper, we are reminded of Jesus’ words.

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” (Matthew 15:18–20, AV)

So, the main issue is one of a person’s heart, and it seems that James is telling us that the most difficult thing to control is the tongue, referring to one’s speech. So, if we see a professing Christian whose speech is seasoned with salt and blesses others, we see one that walks on the path of righteousness. This is the person whose heart is surrendered to the Lord. This is a Spirit filled person.

As I walk out in the stores now days, I have been alarmed by the language of our young people. It seems that they cannot express themselves without the use of some profanity. This truly speaks of their character. There is an internal flaw in their lives. The heart is corrupt because this type of language will not proceed from a pure heart. To me, this is a sign of a society that is drifting down a path of ungodliness. There is only one way to stop the drifting. Laws will not stop it. The only thing that will is a transformation of the heart.

Only God can transform the darkened and hardened heart. What is needed is a work of regeneration, wrought by the Spirit of God in the heart of a person. This work changes the person’s nature so that he or she can overcome the fruit of the sinful nature. The person needs a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. When you hear the vulgar talk on the street, think about your language as well. What is displayed to others. Perhaps you do not use profanity, but is your speech wholesome and beneficial to the hearer? Moreover, when you hear the vile speech of others, take time to pray for them that the Lord would change their hearts. Perhaps He will give you an opportunity to share Christ with the person.

Consider these things for it is what is on the inside that counts.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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