I read a book recently called "Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane. It was about a young man, named Henry, who enlisted for war and the journey he took in becoming a man. At the beginning of the story he is very naïve to war and its devastation. At one point he even retreats leaving his comrades on their own to defend their honor.
I noticed as the story continued that Henry’s heart started to change. It hardened. It filled with anger and rage. It seemed poisoned by its surroundings and circumstances. It became so toxic that others started to notice. “Are you okay, Henry?” One of his closest friends was concerned. When Henry retreated, it wasn’t just a physical event. He retreated in his heart as well. The guilt overwhelmed him. Roots were growing inside of him. Roots of resentment, anger, un-forgiveness, and hatred were taking over his heart and making it toxic.
Have you ever met someone with a toxic heart? The circumstances or surroundings of their life had poisoned them. Bad things happen, unfortunate events sweep in and shake us to the core of our being, and things happen that are beyond our control. Life is messy and unpredictable. But in the midst of the chaos, we have a choice. We can keep moving forward or retreat. The choice is ours. When we begin to retreat we open the door up for our hearts to become polluted and filled with toxin.
Toxic can be defined as…
Poisonous, harmful or deadly, capable of causing injury or death
A toxic heart can be recognized by the words that come out of its mouth. Henry had a religious background. His mom had strong convictions. It says in the book that, “She had had certain ways of expression that told him that her statements on the subject came from deep conviction” (
1). She also said after he enlisted, “The
Lord’s will be done, Henry” (Ch. 1). He
was raised in a home where certain values and principles were held tightly and
expressed freely. Ch.
Henry had to recognize what was in him as he spoke from a toxic heart. How could he miss the changes occurring on the outside of him? Some times living too close to the problem can blind us to the truth.
I have heard a scripture in the Bible before that helps clarify this point.Luke says “…for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (NIV)
What comes out of our mouths helps others see what is in our hearts! Interesting… I don’t know about you, but I have good and bad days when it comes to what comes out of my mouth. I don’t know that this scripture is speaking of our off days, but what is deep down inside of us on a daily basis. It’s what is at the core of who we are.
I have a question for you. It’s a personal one. Do you have any destructive roots growing in your heart? Could your heart be toxic? What is the flavor of your conversation when you speak? Is it sweet or sour? Living with a toxic heart is dangerous. I encourage you to ask a friend or family member today if they have noticed any changes in you lately. The ability to be free from this is entirely up to you. I dare you to choose freedom today!
Living to leave a legacy,