Imagine going to a supermarket and finding the entire produce section full of rotting bananas. No more, no less. Perplexed and a bit put-off, you ask a worker “What are all these gross-looking bananas doing here, and why isn’t there anything else available?! You don’t expect anyone to buy these, do you?”
To which the worker responds, “Oh no—you can have as many as you like, for free.”
“No thanks,” you tell him. Then, in hopes of finding something more palatable and nutritious, you ask him, “Do you have any other produce in stock?”
To which they answer, “Sorry, no. This is all we’ve got. Take it or leave it.”
You leave it, and leave the store, very hesitant to return.
In Luke 6:45, Jesus tells us:
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
We are like stores. We gather inventory from various sources— other people, the media, books, experiences, etc. These then get stocked in our minds and hearts, where they influence how we feel and think.
What we have to offer anyone who encounters us, comes out of that stock. We can’t offer anything that isn’t in our inventory. If someone comes to us looking for kindness, generosity, encouragement, wisdom, or any tasteful and nourishing speech, they’re not going to get it if it’s not in our heart!
Sometimes it’s because we’re “out of stock”. Don’t you hate it when you’re searching for that item you really need, and discover it’s “out of stock”?
That’s what we do to people when they need words of support, encouragement, wisdom, and/or kindness from us, and we come up “empty” for them. Or worse yet, offer the only stock we have left— “rotten produce” – criticism, blame, foolish chatter, and/or harsh words.
How do we run out of the good stock?
- We change where we get our inventory from—start reading, watching, and listening to bad news, negative comments, foolish opinions, trashy stuff, etc.
- We let a difficult experience make us bitter toward God and life in general.
- We hold grudges against people who’ve hurt us in some way.
- There’s not enough room in our hearts for everything, so we throw out the good inventory to make room for the trash, bitterness, and resentment.
At one time, the good inventory of edifying speech filled the shelves of our hearts, but disappears, until we’re “out of stock.” Sad.
For some people, they never “carry” the produce of edifying speech to begin with! Have you ever been disappointed by a sales clerk who says, “Sorry, we’ve never carried that.”?
This is how we feel when we interact with people who’ve never said a kind word to anyone! Kindness, love, generosity, gentleness, etc., have never been part of their inventory.
- They’ve never received it to recognize it or know its value.
- They’ve never been taught how to stock it.
- So, left to their own selfish nature, they “buy into” what “works for #1”.
The solution? How do we gather a heart/mind inventory full of good, nourishing, produce to offer whoever we meet?
1. Stock up on God’s Word— study and meditate on it.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
2. Keep good company—spend time with people who share good inventory and fill your heart and mind with good, edifying, content. (Ps. 1:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:33)
3. Do things that build your character and create a healthy mindset—prayer, reading good books, listening to good podcasts, exercise, getting out in God’s creation (nature), etc.
4. Practice having a thankful heart for good things in your life.
What inventory do you have in stock these days? People will find out when they talk with you!