“Who you are will come out of your neck if not your mouth.”
Coming from a buddy of mine who leads a Celebrate Recovery ministry, this nugget has never left me. It helps that he says it often, but it’s more than that. Everything we really, truly, deeply are will come out in our behavior whether it comes out of our mouth or not.
And who we are will not only come out in our lives, it will affect those around us. Perhaps you’ve heard another expression (assuming you’ve not heard my friend’s!): “One bad apple spoils the bunch”. The rottenness of one person can sink an entire group to their level.
All of this speaks to our hearts. Of course, not the physical organ continuously moving blood through our bodies, but our “command center”.
King Solomon of Israel observed these things about humans as well: who we are slips out into our lives whether we like it or not. In Ecclesiastes 10:1-3 he writes:
1 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. 2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. 3 Even as fools walk along the road, they lack sense and show everyone how stupid they are.
Ecclesiastes 10:1-3, NIV
Solomon gets quickly to the heart of the issue by reminding us it’s the heart governing our actions. He summarizes these actions with references to the “right” and “left”. In his world, the right hand represented honor, uprightness, and authority. Conversely, the left hand represented dishonor, treachery, and weakness.
It’s not just the actions of a foolish person that are foolish. According to the Bible, their hearts are foolish. Their actions do not make them foolish. They are foolish and therefore do foolish things. Or as Forrest Gump said it in the movie, “Stupid is as stupid does”.
That’s why “a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor” (verse 1). The perfect, aromatic mixture of wisdom and honor is spoiled by the tiniest bit of depravity in the human heart. The entire perfume is spoiled by this foolishness.
Just like wisdom is apparent (cf. Ecclesiastes 8:1), so is foolishness. Those without wisdom can simply go about their daily life and their foolishness is apparent. It’s self-evident.
But this is not how Christians live. Indeed, who we are comes out in our lives. We are not granted entry into Heaven because of our behavior. Our behavior demonstrates we are being granted entry to Heaven.
Does our behavior tell the world we are disciples of Jesus? Are we responding as He would respond? Are we telling others about Him because we know the good thing we’ve found? Are we telling them by our lives that we have been redeemed from the foolishness of this world to the wisdom that is found in Him?