A Healthy Mouth
February 6, 2011
This is week five of our Health Check series, and we’ve looked at a Healthy Body, Healthy Appetites and a Healthy Heart and so this week we are looking at “A Healthy Mouth”
It really isn’t fair! When I think of Doctors there are a whole slew in the media who come to mind. From my childhood it would have been Marcus Welby MD, as a teen it would be Hawkeye and Trapper John, in my twenties obviously Cliff Huxtable and now . . . I guess it would be House MD. All fine examples and nice people, with the exception of House. Not a nice person but he would be a great doctor, maybe. You ever notice that House and his team can kill their patient three or four times in the run of an hour?
But go looking for a dentist in the media and what do you get? Nothing zip, nada and in the movies the only one I can think of is the villain from the “Marathon Man”, Dr. Christian Szell, the Nazi Dr. Understand he is listed as one of the top ten movie bad guys of all time but still. . .
Through the years our concept of oral health has changed. Dentistry only began being seen as a serious medical practice in the last 150 years or so, before that if you needed a tooth tended to it was a barber or tooth drawer at the market who tended to you.
But things began to change in the early 1900’s Here is a quote from: Oral Hygiene volume 1, number 1 printed in January 1911 in an article by George Edwin Hunt entitled: What is the Best Way?. “Yesterday practitioners of the healing art said, Let us pray; today they are saying, Let us cure; tomorrow they will be saying, Let us prevent.” Years ago we never through of our teeth unless they were giving us problems. It wasn’t that long ago that it was recommended that you visit your dentist every two years, now it’s every six months and there are reasons for that.
People are more conscious than ever about how their teeth look, are they white enough, straight enough, too big or too small? And people spend a lot of money on their teeth, from check-ups and cleanings to whitening and straightenings. From root canals to caps and implants we are obsessed with how their mouths look. And if you visit the oral care section of your local supermarket or pharmacy you are overwhelmed with the plethora of toothpaste and toothbrushes, whitening kits and various types of floss, Listerine used to be the taste people hate twice a day now there are a half a dozen types of Listerine promising stronger teeth, whiter smiles and healthy gums.
And our teeth and our smiles aren’t’ something that people just started noticing. In the Song of Solomon, which if you have missed it is a love song written in the middle of the Bible, the author talks about how white and even his lovers teeth were. Three thousand years ago a person’s smile was considered an important attribute. And there is a lot of truth in what was said by Soupy Sales “Be true to your teeth and they won’t be false to you.”
But this morning we aren’t looking at the appearance of your mouth, as important as that might be, but the health of your mouth. New research is showing more correlations between oral health and the overall health of our bodies. As a matter of fact we now know that there are links between oral health and diabetes, respiratory illness, pre-term, low weight babies and cardiovascular disease. Then there are the direct results of neglecting your oral health, tooth pain, tooth loss and chronic bad breath. And whether you want to admit it or not society as a whole has a slightly lower impression of people with bad teeth.
But it’s not just our physical mouth that we are talking about this morning, let’s talk about the spiritual impact of your oral health, that is what comes out of your mouth. We are warned by Jesus in Matthew 15:11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
And that isn’t the only place in the Bible that our tongues and mouths are spoken of. Listen to the words of Solomon in Proverbs 13:3 Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.
Our mouths will reveal as much or more about our Christian character or lack of Christian character then our actions will. The words of our mouth are the most powerful influence in the church and it is able to build people up or tear them down.
This may shake some people up but there’s a lot more in the bible about gossip then there is about drinking, smoking, gambling, movie going and dancing combined.
They say that the old nature needs to be crucified, well I’ve met more than one Christian that would benefit from having their tongue nailed to a cross, or at least some of us would benefit.
In the scripture that was read this morning you heard the truth of the word of God when James wrote James 3:12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
There are things that your dentist can determine about your physical health from your mouth and so here is the question: What does Your Mouth Say about Your Spiritual Health?
And so it’s not just how you walk but how you talk that will determine the credibility of your Christianity.
And so on a day to day basis you are judged not just on your actions but on your words, and on your tone of voice. And you’re not just judged by the person you are talking to you are judged by everyone within earshot, and so for just a few moments let’s look at what your mouth says about you. Will your mouth betray spiritual flaws, or will it reveal spiritual strengths?
Those of you who remember your Old Testament history may recall that Moses sent twelve spies into the promised land to determine whether or not it could be occupied. It was the most beautiful country they had ever seen, it was fertile, it was rich, and they brought back a sample of its produce. And here is their report Numbers 13:27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. The problem was, that numbers 13:28 began with the word but, and with that but, ten of the twelve spies began telling Moses and the children of Israel why they could not possibly go into Canaan, Numbers 13:28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! They recognized the promises of God, but because of their unbelief they were unwilling to claim those promises. 1) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Little Faith You Have
Time and time again, we see Christian men and women who have glimpsed what God can do but they don’t go any further, not because God can’t or won’t take them further but because of unbelief in their hearts. The problem that those twelve spies had was summed up in Numbers 13:33 We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”
The spies had come to the conclusion that there was no way they could conquer the promised land by themselves and they were right. But God had never asked them to do it by themselves. And when the Israelites finally entered into the land which God had promised them their journey was a journey of miracles. In Joshua 3, the Jordan stood still, in chapter 6 the city of Jericho fell when on the seventh day after marching around it seven times the people blew their horns and shouted unto the Lord. In chapter ten Joshua called to the Lord and the God made the sun stand still.
The children of Israel, knew that there was no way in the world that they could conquer the promised land, and their speech betrayed that fact. But God never implied that they would have to do it by themselves. They talked themselves into defeat. And when we say, “I can’t do that” or “we can’t do this” we are usually right because we have convinced ourselves that we can’t. And worse then that we have convinced ourselves that God can’t do it either. Leo Tolstoy had it right when he wrote “We lost because we told ourselves we lost”.
Because when we are saying as Christians, “it’s too hard, it’s too long, it’s too tough” “I can’t get victory over cussing, or drinking, or smoking, or gossiping or my temper.” what we are really saying is that it’s too hard for God, or too tough for God or too long for God. Don’t let your speech betray your lack of belief.
But there were Twelve Spies not ten and here is the report of the other two Numbers 14:7-8 They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. 2) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Much Faith You Have
Not only did Caleb and Joshua believe that God was able to deliver them into the Promised Land but they were willing to put their faith on the line and verbalize their belief. It’s funny but faith often doesn’t become reality until it is spoken aloud. In Genesis 1 we see God speaking the world into existence, and through the rest of the creation process we read that God spoke, or God said or God called. Now to be truthful I don’t know if it’s accountability or if God just wants us to verbalize our belief and faith in him. But I do know this, that we have to get beyond “no I can’t” and get to “yes God can!”
I can’t kick that habit, I can’t overcome that sin, I can’t love that person, I can’t tithe, I can’t I can’t I can’t. But remember Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Again, this is one of those verses that is fun to take out of context. Whenever we are facing difficulty in our personal, academic or business life we trot this one out like some magical mantra. But understand, this is not a name it and claim it verse, a blab it and grab it promise foisted on us by the cargo cults. It’s not a genie in a bottle, but it is a promise of empowerment in our Christian walk, it is the promise when we are facing temptation or when we need strength to follow and obey Christ’s commands.
I believe there is real power in the positive self-talk, not trying to be new agey or uber positive thinking here, not wanting to jump on the “name it claim” it band wagon but we all know how good it feels to be encouraged by others, to hear others tell us they believe in us and believe we can do it, so why shouldn’t there be the same encouragement when we hear it from ourselves.
Your mouth will not only reveal your faith in God but also in God’s greatest creation which you. All goes back to the premise that “God don’t make Junk.”
Exodus 14:11-12 and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’ ” 3) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Discontent You Are
This goes back to the beginning of the story of Israel’s escape from Egypt. Moses has led the children of Israel out of Egypt and for the first little while everything was a cake walk. The people were rejoicing and the entire spirit of the journey was one of joy and happiness. Moses was the hero of the day. And he leads them to the shore of the red sea, and as they look out at the angry waves lapping the beach at their feet they chance a look back and here comes the other side. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
That theme of whingeing and whining was to be repeated time and time again as the Jews marched through the wilderness in search of the land of milk and honey.
Even when God provided them with a food source that required no more than for them to bend over and pick it up they had complaints.
You know what I mean, there are people who are sea sick on the entire journey of life. And wouldn’t be happy if they didn’t have someone or something to complain about. Don’t let your mouth betray your discontentment.
In writing to the Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul says in
Philippians 4:11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. (by the way this is the lead in to Philippians 4:13) 4) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Content You Are
Now I want to make one thing perfectly clear, contentment is not complacency.
Discontentment tends to rail against things and people, while contentment moves consistently toward Godliness. It is never willing to stand still and be stagnate. We can be content to live in 2011 without becoming complacent toward the evils which surround us, instead we will seek to change them. The content person is the person who says “I believe that God is in control and will seek to serve him regardless of the situation.”
I am content at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, I tell you I am happier than a raccoon in a garbage can, I am in hog heaven here. I love you folks; I love the church God has given me. I really do. I am content here but I will not allow that contentment to develop into complacency, contentment must never become an excuse for complacency. Does your speech reveal your contentment with what God is doing in your life?
3 John 9-10 I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church. 5) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Nasty You Are
I can think of no other one thing that does as much damage within the body of Christ as the words of Christians. But brother I was just sharing sister so and so’s problem so that we could pray about it. Uh-huh. Yah right. You got a problem it doesn’t go to the person down the street; it doesn’t go to the pastor or the board. The scriptures are very plain ifn you got a problem with someone, then you go to that person and you get it straight.
It’s unfortunate that so many Christians think they’ve taken a vow of silence when it comes to witnessing and then try to make up for it when they are revealing the faults and weaknesses of brothers and sisters in the Lord. And the nine times out of ten it matters not whether those faults are real or imaginary.
Gossip isn’t the only problem with our words, another one is candour. And we try to dress this one up and take credit for it. A woman once told Wesley, “I have a talent for always speaking my mind.” His response, “that’s one talent that would be best buried.” It’s sometimes too easy to point out a person’s shortcomings and sometimes the damage is devastating.
It’s been said that we need to apply a threefold test to what we say, 1) is it true? 2) is it kind? 3) is it necessary? It would probably help a lot. If we can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.
Don’t let your mouth betray your lack of love and never underestimate the power of your words, as Eric Idle said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours.”
Romans 1:8 Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.
6) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Encouraging You Are
It is imperative that we be positive when we talk to and about people. It is so important to hold up people’s achievement and give praise where praise is due. As parents we need to verbalize our love for our children and tell them how proud we are of them. Our words mould our children and become self-fulfilling prophesies. And not just your children, but our spouses as well. Husbands tell your wives, wives tell your husbands.
How about telling your friends how you feel about them, or your brothers and sisters in the church, or the workers in the church. I’m not talking about flattery I’m talking about sincere praise. Most people can tell the difference.
Dale Carnegie wrote “You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”
Let’s make a conscious effort to be positive in our comments to one another. To speak up more in praise and encouragement. Everything that happened this morning happened because someone did it. Have you thanked and encouraged someone lately?
And here’s one I would like to add because I can 7) Your Mouth Can Reveal What a Jerk You Are This is just a short one but it involves cussing. You understand that who you are as a believer will be judged by the words you speak, and who you are as a person will be judged by the words you speak.
Profanity and blasphemy doesn’t make you a hero it doesn’t make you sound grown up, it doesn’t make you sound worldly. It makes you sound like a jerk, with no education and no respect for the people around you. When I hear someone use profanity I immediately deduct 30 IQ points and I’m not alone. Remember that is the same mouth you use to kiss your mother.
When you start to swear it means that you’ve lost the argument and can’t think of any intelligent reply.
So where are you at? What will your mouth reveal about you? Physically we are told that the most important things we can do to have a health mouth is brush and floss, don’t have to join a gym, don’t have to deprive yourself of your favourite food, just brush and floss.
On the other side of the coin, I have two quotes and a scripture to close Calvin Coolidge was president of the US in the early 1900’s and was known by many people as Silent Cal and he said “I have never been hurt by what I have not said.”
Dan Quayle was Vice President of the US in the late 1900s and he said “Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.”
And David was the greatest King to ever serve Israel and his prayer was Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Let’s read that together this morning as our prayer.