O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
~ Matthew 12:34
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
~ Psalm 37:30-31
The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom. He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning. Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly. The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
~ Proverbs 10:20-21, Proverbs 12:17-19, Proverbs 15:28, Proverbs 16:21-23, Ephesians 4:29
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
~ Colossians 3:16, Colossians 4:6
What Spiritual Mindedness Is, by John Owen.
As the nature of the earth is judged by the grass that grows on it, so the heart may be judged by the thoughts produced by it. If those thoughts are spiritual, the man is spiritual. If they are worldly, then the man is worldly.
Everyone’s heart is his treasury, and the treasure the heart contains is either good or evil, as Jesus tells us (Mat 12:35). There is good and bad treasure in the heart. So, whatever a man has in his heart is his treasure. This treasure is never exhausted. The more it is poured out, the more it increases. The more one pours out the treasure of one’s heart, the more one will be repaid in the same kind. If the heart is filled with evil treasure, the thoughts it pours out will be evil. But if the heart has been renewed by grace and is under the power and do- minion of grace, then it is full of good, spiritual treasure, and the thoughts it pours out are good and spiritual too (Mat 12:35).
So, the thoughts of the heart reveal the real truth about a person. Thoughts that are voluntary, unforced, and that arise naturally— because they are delighted in and bring satisfaction to the mind— these are the thoughts that show us the real truth about ourselves.
We all have many thoughts about our work, our family, and our various duties. But these thoughts do not tell us the real truth about ourselves. So, those whose calling it is to study Scripture and preach it to others cannot but have many spiritual thoughts. Yet Christian ministers may be, and often are, the least spiritually minded of all people. It would be well for the church if all preachers diligently examined themselves in this matter.
It is the same with all those who read a portion of Scripture every day. They may be very faithful in performing this religious ritual and yet not be at all spiritually minded (Eze 33:31).
But when a person is relaxed and free from all cares and worries, and his mind is free to think as it pleases, then we can see what thoughts are natural to it. If these are useless, foolish, proud, ambitious, lustful, or degrading, then such is the true nature of the heart and the person. But if they are holy, spiritual, and heavenly, so is the heart and the person.
In the unregenerate, “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [is] only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). This is the natural, genuine product of the heart of the unbeliever. So, the wicked are said to be “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isa 57:20). Their hearts are full of evil. This mire and dirt of evil thoughts is continually stirred up by the ever-moving sea of lusts and uncontrollable desires.
So, to be spiritually minded, in the first place, is to have holy, heavenly, spiritual thoughts. The regenerate, spiritual heart, like a refreshing spring, pours out a crystal-clear stream of such thoughts.
As all men occasionally think of spiritual things, but are not spiritually minded, we must find out what thoughts especially prove us to be spiritually minded.
Before we can do so, we must first make a clear distinction between thoughts that arise naturally from the heart and those that are forced on us from an outside influence.
Some men naturally think about their houses and lands, and even like to call their lands after their own names (Psa 49:11). Others’ minds are filled with evil schemes (Psa 64:6). But the psalmist does not distinguish between thoughts arising from the natural bent of the heart and those stirred up by outward influences.
The thoughts of wicked men are stirred up by inward lusts (Jam 1:14). These lusts stir up thoughts, leading and encouraging the per- son to provide for what the flesh desires.
Similarly with spiritual thoughts, they are the first, natural thoughts of the regenerate mind and stir up the person to provide for his spir- itual growth and health. For instance, there are two sorts of thoughts that stir up covetousness. Covetousness can be stirred up by sight of desirable objects. The covetous desires of Achan were roused when he saw a “goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold” (Jos 7:21). When he saw them, he coveted them. The covetous man is naturally covetous, and so covetous desires natu- rally well up within him (Isa 32:6). He is quite the opposite of the generous-hearted man (Isa 32:8).
The unclean person is the same. His lust is aroused by outward objects. To avoid being stirred up to unclean thoughts, Job made a covenant with his eyes (Job 31:1). Christ also warned of adulterous thoughts being awakened within by a lustful look (Mat 5:28). It is better to pluck out the right eye than to allow one’s mind to be filled with such unclean thoughts (verse 29).
But an unclean person is also naturally lustful and has these desires in himself which give rise to lustful thoughts. So, Peter de- scribes such persons as “having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin” (2Pe 2:14). But if our natural thoughts and desires are for spiritual things, then we may judge ourselves to be spiritually minded.
One day, the psalmist was meditating on spiritual things, namely the person and kingdom of the Messiah (Psa 45:1). His heart “bubbled up” a good matter, as it says in the original. It is a picture of a spring of water bubbling up. His spiritual thoughts bubbled up from a living spiritual spring within him. This is true spiritual mindedness. There is, in the regenerate heart, a living spring full of spiritual things that bubbles up into holy thoughts. This is how Christ describes spiritual life (Joh 4:10, 12). The Holy Spirit with His graces in the heart of a believer is a well of living water.
The well the Samaritan woman drew water from was a lifeless, earthly thing, of no use unless buckets and ropes were used to draw the water to the surface. But the “living water” Christ gives bubbles up continually within us and is for our spiritual refreshment. This is the secret of the person who is a new creation in Christ and who has a new spiritual nature. The Spirit with His graces is the source of true spiritual life in believers. This spiritual spring bubbles up of itself without the need of any outward influences to draw it into holy, heavenly, spiritual thoughts. The spiritual man has within him a spiritual spring which “naturally” bubbles up spiritual thoughts and desires.
Christ also likens the spiritual life to a fruit tree. A good tree naturally bears good fruit, and a bad tree naturally bears bad fruit (Mat 12:33). The good tree signifies a life made new by the grace of regeneration and which now naturally bears the good fruit of holy, spiritual thoughts.
Men may have many thoughts of spiritual things that do not bubble up from an inward spiritual spring but are drawn up by other influences. When the Holy Spirit does His work of convicting a person of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (Joh 16:8), this stirs the mind to think of spiritual things in a way that is contrary to its own natural inclination.
It is natural for water to fall and flow downhill. But when pressure is applied to it as it runs through a hose pipe, it will spurt upwards as if it was natural for it to do so. But as soon as the pressure eases, then the water returns to its natural tendency. So it is with our thoughts. They naturally flow to the earth. But when the pressure of spiritual conviction is brought to bear on the soul, then the thoughts are forced up to heaven as if it was natural for them to be there. But when the pressure of spiritual conviction is removed, then the thoughts return to earthly things.
Outward troubles also force thoughts up to God (Psa 78:34-37). But these thoughts are not genuine and honest. Troubles, dangers, sick- ness, fear of dying will force people to think of God and spiritual things for a while. But when the pressure is eased, then the mind returns to its natural, unspiritual interests. Jeremiah gives the reason for this (Jer 13:23).
So, a person who depends on outward pressures and influences to keep up his spiritual thoughts is not naturally spiritually minded.
Water that bubbles up from a spring flows steadily and constantly unless it is obstructed or diverted. But that which flows from thunderstorms runs furiously for a while and is then quickly dried up. So, true spiritual thoughts, bubbling up from an inward spiritual spring, are steady and constantly present in the mind unless diverted by secular work or obstructed for a while by strong temptations. But the spiritual thoughts stirred up by the thunderstorms of conviction are soon dried up…
So, all the means that God has given for producing holy, heavenly thoughts only do so by exciting and stirring up the inward spiritual principle within the regenerated heart. But in those whose hearts are barren, the same divine means only serve, as it were, to stir up occasional thoughts, some here and some there.
Whatever degree of religious pleasure a professor of the gospel may possess; or however confident he may be, relative to the safety of his own state; if not habitually desirous of growing in grace, in spiritual mindedness, and in conformity to the example of Jesus Christ, he may be justly considered as a self-deceiver.—John Newton