To the Pure|
Communication is a two way process. It requires a sender and a receiver. For communication to be effective, both the sender and the receiver have to be careful participants. We are generally aware of the Scriptures’ instructions concerning the sender’s side of communication, for passages like James 3:1-12, Matthew 12:36, Ephesians 4:29, and numerous verses in the Proverbs warn us to be careful in our speech. However, we may not be as sensitive about being careful receivers of communication. In Luke 8:18, Jesus said, "So take care how you listen…” Truly, it is just as much the responsibility of the receiver to correctly interpret the message as it is for the sender to correctly impart it.
One of the greatest barriers to effective communication is impurity within the heart of man. An impure condition of the heart can cause every message to be interpreted through a filter of corrupt worldliness. The result is that a perfectly good and wholesome message may be received as something vile in the impure heart. This point is well stated in the book Hermeneutics by D.R. Dungan. On pages 17-18, the author writes:
How true it is that many messages and motives are interpreted by a "dirty mind” to mean something evil when nothing evil was intended. How powerful is the point made from Christ’s words in Matthew 5:8, for the pure in heart are able to perceive God in the here and now through the general revelation of His creation and the special revelation of His word. The impure of heart are unable to grasp this perception because they have chosen to see sin, filth, and wickedness in everything and everybody. To this point, several allusions are made to Romans 1:18-32 in the preceding quotation. In that passage, we see that when the Gentiles had rejected God in their hearts, God gave them over to physical impurity, degrading passions, and a depraved mind. Their impure hearts made everything impure to them. So it is also with many men who have impure hearts today.
Paul gives a succinct statement of the truth of this matter in 1:15 – "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” A pure heart is completely dedicated to that which is good, holy, and righteous. Its meditations are whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, whatever is excellent, and whatever is worthy of praise (Phil 4:8). For this reason, nothing unclean or evil takes root in a pure heart. Likewise, a pure heart does not read evil into the words and actions of others. However, the impure heart is quite the opposite. Because it is given over to impurity, this heart is filled with unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, hatred of God, insolence, arrogance, boasting, inventions of evil, disobedience, misunderstanding, lack of trust, lack of love, and lack of mercy (Rom. 1:29-31). Indeed, everything that proceeds from the impure heart is impure and defiled (Matt. 15:18-20). Furthermore, every word and act of others is received and interpreted by the impure heart in terms of sin, filth, and wickedness.
Therefore, let us purify our hearts so that all things will be pure to us. The word of God admonishes us, "Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). It is a single-minded dedication to God’s word and will that has the effect of purifying our hearts, cleansing our consciences, and sanctifying our lives for the service of God (John 17:17; Heb. 9:14; 10:22; 1Pet. 1:22). Paul said that "the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1Tim. 1:5). May we therefore follow the instructions of God’s word so that our hearts may be pure in all things, whether it is our communication or any other activity.
Stacey E. Durham
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