That is exactly what our lungs are—hot air balloons. Most of the time we only use a small amount of their capacity. That is why taking a deep breath can have such a profound effect. We are not used to having that much oxygen in our systems all at once. I have heard that when a person actually begins to use his lungs to their capacity, those who have not smoked in years are suddenly expelling it. It sat at the bottom of their lungs all that time. I don’t know if that is true, but I would not be surprised.
When teaching voice lessons, one of the biggest challenges is to teach people how to breathe, and then how to manage all that air. Taking a deep breath will not accomplish a thing if you just whoosh it all out with the first note you sing. If you take too big a breath, you will not be able to control how much you let out at once. Because you have filled to capacity, the minute you apply any pressure at all with your diaphragm, you will lose close to half of it on the first word. It is far better to fill to about 90%--you will still have far more than you are used to having. You will also have the ability to mete out what you need and sing all the way through a phrase without gasping for air in front of your audience.
When I thought about that, suddenly I understood a word I had been ignoring in one of those oft-quoted passages: for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, Matt 12:34. We usually just say, “You can’t speak what you don’t feel,” which may be true, but it is possible to have things come out in ways you never intended at all.
I remember riding to a gospel meeting with another couple many years ago. I was in the backseat with the other woman, while Keith sat up front with the man. Motion sickness can hit me at the drop of a hat. I tried to be polite and actually look at the woman whenever I spoke to her, but that looking back and forth to the side, all that scenery rushing past behind her head, along with the larger sense of lateral sway in the backseat, was taking a toll on me. Finally I said, “I’m sorry. I just can’t look at you any more; it’s making me sick.”
You see what I mean. Sometimes the bad things that come out of your mouth are perfectly innocent.
But Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Aha! I looked up that word. It’s a nice long Greek word, also translated, “remain,” as in something that remains over and above what is needed. In Matthew 14, Jesus fed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish. He not only fed them, but he fed them so abundantly that they all ate and were filled and they took up that which remained (that long Greek word) of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full, v12. The word is also translated “exceed,” “enough and to spare,” and “abound,” as in the grace of God…abounds to the many, Romans 5:15. How much grace do you want God to give you? I hope he gives me more than just barely enough, and the use of this word proves it will be plenty.
So what comes out of my heart is what I stuff it with, what I cram in there every day, filling it to the brim and overflowing. And, just like when I take too deep a breath and the pressure from my diaphragm makes too much air gush out all at once, when I am under pressure, what I have crammed into my heart is what will come out. Is it bitterness for what I have had to endure? Anger at God for the trials he allows? Resentment of everything and everyone because of how my life has turned out? Or is it love, humility, kindness, generosity, contentment, and faith?
Whatever it is, there is no denying what I have been storing away when all of a sudden it bursts upon the scene in a gust of hot air.
Whoever winks the eye causes trouble, but a babbling fool will come to ruin. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for the lack of sense, Prov 10:10, 11, 19-21.