What do we talk about?
About our family? Work? Sports? Politics? Weather? Fishing? Money? Favorite apps? Food?
This simple question invites reflection because our words display our hearts. As Jesus said: “For from within, out of the heart of man come [thoughts, words, and deeds]” (Mark 7:21-22).
Forgive my brackets. He actually said, “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, pride, foolishness.” His point—made to religious foes—was that hearts have values that generate behaviors. It’s also true that some hearts reveal the Spirit’s presence: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness …” (Gal. 5:22-23).
This contrast of heart-birthed actions underscores a Bible truth from Genesis to Revelation: God is all about changed hearts. We read, for instance, of God’s invitation to Israel in Leviticus 20:26, “You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” Jeremiah later spoke for God, that he would “put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33).
The Spirit offers God’s love to change hearts—as in Romans 5:5. In Ezekiel 11:19 we read, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
Ezekiel said more in 36:26, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
This “inside-out” pattern, birthed by the Spirit, is how God changes us. The Spirit’s “personality” is real and transformative. We all know how a friend with a strong personality can impact us. So it is that God’s presence, by his Spirit, does just that: he stirs ongoing responses.
It’s important to realize that God’s work in creating new hearts, new words, and new choices isn’t some sort of mechanical, puppeteer-like activity. Instead he draws us to new values and priorities. And as we embrace his gracious ways we start to share his love, jealousy, anger, joy, and more. And these changes come at the very core of our soul—in our hearts as the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor. 13:14).
This shift of values and choices begins with repentance. The Spirit woos a soul to truth, beauty, and joy. Only this can counteract the black-hole gravity of our self-concerns. We’re free to turn from darkness to light. And with this we start to talk about Jesus naturally and spontaneously. About what he’s doing in our lives; about what he means to us; and our ambition to know him better.
To be clear, I’m not talking about group expectations: of our “Jesus talk” in settings like a Bible course, a sermon-review home group, or in planning events with a pastor. Instead we talk about him in our informal visits over coffee. We start to ignore old habits. Our devotion to television, video games, movies, or even gardening starts to be moderated. Instead we talk freely and much more often with friends about Jesus. He’s captured us. And it’s called heart-talk.