December 18, 2007

What a Lovely Bedspread!

A friend of mine recently passed me an essay on sanctification by the English Puritan Thomas Watson (1620-1686). Among many other jewels stored up in this little treasure chest were the following words concerning Christian conversation.

The world is a great Inn; we are guests in this Inn. Travellers, when they are met in their Inn, do not spend all their time in speaking about their Inn; they are to lodge there but a few hours, and are gone; but they are speaking of their home, and the country wither they are travelling. So when we meet together, we should not be talking only about the world; we are to leave this presently; but we should talk of our heavenly country.

In other words, if you and an old childhood friend were sharing a hotel room in Cleveland, on your way to Niagara Falls…you wouldn’t spend your time talking about the lovely furnishings in the Hampton Inn. That would be absurd. You’d talk about home—both childhood memories, and current family life. And you’d talk about Niagara Falls! Not because it’s wrong to talk about bedspreads and towels (they may warrant passing notice), but because there are greater things to talk about! That is what Watson is trying to show us!

I was moved. Because it seems to me that I so often find myself talking merely about the hotel in which I temporarily lodge—the ballgame, the weather, the car problems, etc. And those things aren’t sinful – they may warrant some conversation. But Watson’s words remind me of the even more precious words of Jesus: “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12.34). If, when we are together with Christians (all of whom, because we have the same Father, are like old friends – family, even), all we have to talk about is the stock market, or the new restaurant…then it is a sad day indeed.

So what should you do? Make a list of spiritual subjects, write it on an index card, and keep it in your pocket so you can think of something spiritual to say the next time you are invited to someone’s house for dinner? Of course not! Remember, it is from the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. So the solution is to fill your heart with the things of Christ. Get Christ in your heart and His truth will inevitably drip like honey from your lips—not so that you can sound spiritual when in Christian company, but because you love Him; and you love the church; and you love the things of the heavenly world.

And, once Christ is in your heart, take a risk. It may seem awkward, at first, to talk about Jesus with people among whom you’re accustomed to talk only of the weather and your last doctor’s appointment. But try it out. Be intentional about Christian conversation. Be a blessing to your church family or circle of Christian friends. As another old preacher, Donald MacDonald, said: “Let us talk about Him, even if we do not have much to say.”

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