Sunday, November 25, 2018

[Matt's Message] "Overflow"

Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
November 25, 2018 :: Matthew 12:33-37 

Let me give you a quick reminder of what has happened in Matthew chapter 12 so far:

Jesus has done two major healings and has claimed to be the King of Rest, the Lord of the Sabbath. And His enemies, the Pharisees, have been angry that He did these two healings and have counter-claimed that Jesus is, in fact, the King of the Demons or at least in league with Beelzebub, the prince of demons.

As they say, “That escalated quickly.”

You can see that there is no middle ground between these two positions.

Jesus has all but said that He is the Son of God because He has claimed that He is Lord over the Fourth Commandment from God!

But the Pharisees have said that Jesus is actually Lord of the Flies. Lord of the heap or at least working for him.

There is no middle ground, no compromise, between these two extreme positions.

And Jesus has used this moment of tension to invite people to trust and follow Him.

Jesus has invited us to come to Him in our weariness and under our burdens, and He will give us rest. He has invited us to take His yoke of discipleship on ourselves and walk with Him, learning from Him, and He will give us rest for our souls. Because His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. He is gentle and humble in heart. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smouldering wick He will not snuff out.

Jesus is not in league with Satan.

His kingdom is diametrically opposed to Satan’s kingdom!

And Jesus is so much stronger than Satan. Satan may be a “strong man,” but Jesus can tie up the strong man and take anything from his house that He wants.

So you and I need to choose to follow Him and take His side. Because whoever is not with Jesus is against Him, and whoever does not gather with Jesus scatters.

We didn’t get to finish this section last time. There are only 5 verses left where Jesus finishes His response to the Pharisees, verses 33 through 37.

I decided to leave this last paragraph to this week because we were running out time, and because these 5 verses are really powerful and really practical for our lives today.

They should be familiar to you. They are really familiar to me as I studied them and studied them and then wrote about them in my doctoral project and then my book and then have preached about them from out of my book for the last 8 years.

They key word in the 1984 NIV is “Overflow,” and I’m going to make that the title of today’s message. The 2011 NIV has “full of.” The English Standard Version and King James Version have the word “abundance.”

The Greek word is perisseumatos.


Jesus starts by talking about trees.

He just got done talking about the unforgivable sin of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what is clearly the work of God and rejecting Jesus forever.

And then the very next verse, Jesus is talking about trees.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”

Is Jesus talking about horticulture?

No. He’s talking about people.

Why would the Pharisees say what they said about Jesus in verse 24?

“It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

How could they say that?

Where did that come from?

Well, Jesus says, “People are like trees.”

If a tree is good, and by that He probably means healthy, then its fruit will be good.

If the root system and the trunk and the heart of the tree is healthy, then it will produce healthy fruit.

Or if you make a tree bad (or unhealthy), guess how the fruit is going to be? Rotten.

And you can always recognize what kind of tree (healthy or unhealthy or even what species of tree: apple, orange, fig, whatever) it is by its fruit.

So Jesus says, it’s no wonder that these men said what they said in verse 24.

Jesus says (v.34), “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Jesus goes from calling them “trees,” to calling them “snakes.”

“You family of snakes.”

“That’s who you are.”

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?”

“It’s no surprise that you are saying the evil words of verse 24, because you have evil hearts.”

“You have snake hearts. That is clear from your snake words.”

And then He says, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

A few years ago when I was preaching this text, I poured out a water bottle onto the stage, and I said, “Why is there water on the stage?”

And you looked at me like, “Uh. Our pastor has lost it.”

And then I said, “Why isn’t there Kool-Aid or Pepsi or Orange Juice on the stage?”

And the answer was “Because Cindy would hurt you!”

The answer was, “Because there was water in the bottle.”

What comes out of the bottle was what was in the bottle.

Jesus says that what comes out of the heart was what “the heart was full of.”

“The abundance of the heart.”

“The overflow of the heart.”

So here is application point number one (of just two) this morning:


The reason why Jesus uses such strong language is to wake these Pharisees up to reality.

They are a brood of vipers.

They are bad trees.

They are saying these bad things about Jesus because their hearts are bad.

And they need to wake up to their condition and tend to their sinful hearts.

In other words, they need to repent.

And if they are too far gone to repent, then the people around them and the people listening (like us!) need to take note and not go down that road themselves.

Your words reveal your heart.

I’m sure that these men thought they had good hearts.

But they were self-deceived.

Jesus is calling them to get real about their hearts.

What is the “heart?”

The heart is the real you.

The inner you.

The you on the inside.

The heart is control center of the human being.

It’s the part of you that worships, that wants, that desires, that prioritizes, that is loyal to something or someone.

We tend to use the word “heart” just for the emotions.

But it’s a lot more than the emotions. It’s bigger than just your feelings.

Your heart is the worship core of you that directs your being.

The Proverbs say that the heart is the wellspring of your life.

The Lord Jesus has already taught us how important our hearts are in the Sermon on the Mount. Remember, His kingdom is not just upside down. It’s what? Inside-out.

From the heart out.

And that includes our words.

Our words come from our hearts.

Joe Stowell likes to say, “All talk is heart talk.”

Jesus was calling these men to change at their very root.

It wouldn’t be enough to just stop saying these things about Jesus and Beelzebub, they would need to change at the very root of their beings.

They would need a new heart!

How about your heart?

Do you have a new heart?

The good news is that Jesus is in the business of giving out new hearts to those who repent and trust in Him.

Have you done that?

I hope so.

If not, I invite you to do that right now.

Turn from your sin and turn to the Savior.

Because we don’t just naturally have good hearts.

No, naturally, our hearts and deceptive and wicked.

But Jesus died on the Cross to forgive us our sins and to give us a new heart.

Don’t lie to yourself and say, “No. I’m good. I don’t need that. I’m a good person. I’ve got a good heart.”

That’s what these Pharisees believed about themselves.

Get real about your heart.

Do you need a new one?

But we who are already followers of Jesus know that even though we have been given a new and good heart that we still need to tend to our hearts.

They still need renewing.

We still need repentance and growth in faith.

We need to stay real about our hearts.

If things are coming out of our mouths that should not come out of our mouths, then we can know that there is “heart work” that still needs to be done. V.35

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

That’s how it works.

And if you’re finding that there is still evil things come dredging up out of you (and I’m sure you do), then there are still things in your heart that need repenting of and turning from.

We can’t just fix things on the word-level.

We have to have them fixed on the heart-level.

And that requires getting real about our hearts.

What are you worshiping?
What are you wanting?
What is your heart desiring above other things?

What has your heart?

Because what controls your heart will control your life and come out in your words.

I’ve been fighting with anxiousness the last month or so.

And it’s come out in my words.

It’s come out in anxious words.

Self-protective words.

Defensive words.
Manipulative words.
Exasperated words.

Those words would not have been my words if my heart had been in the right place.

I’m thankful that my words were not, “Jesus is the devil.”

But some of my words may have communicated, “Jesus is not enough for me.”

“I’ve got to have this, this, and this to be happy and content and peaceful.”

And I apologize to those of you who have been affected by my words.

Because you’re getting a taste of what’s in my heart.

How about you?

If you got real about your heart, what would you need to change?

Of what would you need to repent?

What do you need to turn from?

What promise of Christ’s do you need your heart to claim?

Because this is serious stuff. Verse 36.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Now, let’s be clear.

Jesus is NOT saying that you can save yourself on the day of judgment by having good words.

Jesus is saying that on the day of judgment (which is coming!), the words you have said will be evidence of what was in your heart.

If you have trusted in Jesus, there will be plenty of words that show it.

And if you have not trusted in Jesus, there will plenty of words that show that, too.

“For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Because they will reveal the reality of your heart.

Did that happen for the thief on the Cross?

Yes, it did.

Sometimes we think that the thief on the Cross didn’t have time to change.

But his words changed, didn’t they?

He went from hurling insults at our Lord to defending Him and asking Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom.

His heart changed, and so did his words.

Now, notice this.

Notice how deep this accountability goes.

Jesus doesn’t just bang on those who speak maliciously about His identity.

He goes after every “idle” word. V.36 again.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every [malicious, hateful] word they have spoken.”

Is that what it says?

No it says, “every careless word they have spoken.”

Not just the big ones.

But all of the little ones.

Any of our words that don’t come out of a good heart.

Application point number two (and last):


You can’t do that without getting real about you heart!

But it comes out in what you say.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”

So, that’s talking about gossip.

But also about slander.

And also about sinful exaggeration.

And flat out lies.

And meddling in other people’s business.

And telling dirty jokes.

And passing on falsehoods.

And ridiculing people.

And “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking” (Eph 5:4).

Every careless word.

Our Lord says that we will have to give account for every careless word.

Not just every malicious word that we intentionally threw out there.

But every one that we weren’t even really thinking about, but out it popped from our sinful hearts.

We will have to give an account.

Think about every conversation you had at Thanksgiving this year.

Are you happy with everything you said about anything you said at Thanksgiving this year?

When you sit down with your Lord someday for this accountability review, is there anything that you said that you will be embarrassed that will be brought up?

I’m guessing, “yes.”

If your answer is no, I’d say both “Good for you. Your heart is better than mine.” And also “Get real about your heart. Because it’s deceptively wicked.”

Now multiply that by every single conversation you’ve ever had.

And that’s what you will need to be accountable for on judgment day.

If you belong to Jesus, then all of your sinful talk will be forgiven. And it has been.

But you will, apparently, still need to go over it with Him.

“What were you thinking here, my child?”
“What should you have said then, my daughter?”
“What were you worshiping at that point, my son?”
“What were you trying to accomplish?”

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”

And that counts for every word you have tweeted and posted and texted, as well.

Once a week, I go back over all the emails that I have sent in the previous week and remind myself of what I’ve been saying and working on.

And I also go back over my social media accounts once a week to see what I have liked and shared and posted and said.

Someday, I’ll have to do that with my Lord.

Every “like” and “share” and “status update.”

Every DM on Twitter and every PM on Messenger.

Everything said under my breath in the checkout line or in the intersection.

Everything I only said to my bestfriend and my wife.

There will be an accountability review.

So now’s the time to get careful about your mouth.

Again, you can’t do that by just focusing your mouth.

You’ve got to go to the heart level.

If you are ripping people up one side and down the other, you can’t just stop that by sheer force of will.

You’ve got to repent and trust in the promises of God for there to be real and lasting change.

But you can’t let your mouth just run on where it wants to go.

Because someday soon you’re going to have to talk to the Lord about all of your choices, and not just the big ones.

It turns out the small ones are big ones, too.

Where do you need to start?

I recommend starting with prayer that the Lord would reveal to you the sinful words that you most recently have uttered, that came spilling out of the overflow of your heart.

And then take those words to the Lord and ask Him for forgiveness.

And if they were uttered to someone else in a way that hurt them, then go to that person and ask for their forgiveness, too.

Better to talk it out now than for it to be a big surprise on judgment day.

Where do you need to start?