The alcohol didn't create the sexual perversion that came out of my uncle's mouth. He was actually thinking those thoughts in his sobriety. What did the alcohol do? It loosened the lips, and when his lips got loose, out came the heart. Here is what you and I need to understand: word problems are heart problems. Word problems are not vocabulary problems. Word problems are not technique problems. Word problems in their essential form are heart problems.

Christ uses a wonderful example to drive this reality home. It's the example of a tree. What's the best way to recognize an apple tree? Well, it's obvious—apples. But when you look at those apples, you instinctively know that the tree you're looking at is apple-istic all the way down to its roots. If there wasn't apple-ism in its roots, it wouldn't grow apples as fruit. You will never, ever plant peach pits and get apples. Now, don't miss the profound point that Christ is making here. He is teaching the principle of organic consistency. There is an organic consistency between what's in our hearts and what comes out of our mouths.

The Essential Confession 

I don't know about you, but I don't want to believe that. I actually want to believe that when it comes to communication, my biggest problem is outside of me, not inside of me. I want to think that it's my kids, my wife, my neighbors, my boss. I want to think that my greatest, deepest communication problem doesn't exist inside of me; it exists outside of me. But that, brothers and sisters, is a very dangerous heresy, because when you are able to convince yourself that your deepest, greatest problems in life exist outside of you, you'll quit being a seeker after the transforming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we all ease our consciences with this heresy, telling ourselves that we said what we said only because of what someone said or did to us. We tell ourselves that our problem is not us, but them. My mom captured this response very well for me. She said, "Paul, I know that Scripture says, ‘A soft answer turns away wrath and a harsh word stirs up anger,' but the person who wrote that didn't have my children."

Are you prepared to make this essential confession with me: "I am my greatest communication problem. The greatest difficulty, the greatest danger, and the everyday traps of communication that we all fall into all exist inside of me, not outside of me."

Let's go back to the tree. Pretend with me that I have an apple tree in my backyard in Philadelphia, and every year it grows dry, pulpy, brown, hard, and inedible apples, and it drives Luella crazy. So she says, "Paul, why would we have this apple tree if we can never eat these apples?"

I think and I ponder. I want to help this lady that I love. So after some contemplation I say to her, "I've come up with an idea. I think I can fix our apple tree."

She's a bit confused, but she's excited. Saturday morning she looks out the window and sees me carrying some items. Pay careful attention: I'm carrying a big, tall ladder, some branch cutters, an industrial grade pneumatic nail gun, and three bushels of Red Delicious apples. She watches me climb up on that ladder and very carefully cut off all those inedible apples. I nail Red Delicious apples carefully and symmetrically all around the tree. From a hundred yards away you would think I was the horticulturalist of the century. But what are you thinking if you're my wife? You're thinking, "This is the big one. The doctor said he'd be this way if he lived."

What's going to happen to those apples? They are going to rot, because they are not attached to the life-giving resources of the tree. More importantly, what kind of apples is that tree going to grow the next year? Twisted, pulpy, dried, brown, inedible apples, because there has been no organic change in that tree. If that tree is producing that kind of apple year after year, there is something systemically wrong with the tree, even down to its roots.