Let me apply this powerful physical picture to our world of talk. I am convinced that much of what we do in an attempt to change our communication is nothing more or less than apple nailing. It has no energy to understand and confess the war for the heart that lies beneath the war of words. People aren't my problem. Situations are not my problem. Circumstances are not my problem. Locations are not my problem. My problem is in my heart. It's only when you and I stand before our Redeemer and are humbly willing to say, regardless of the flawed people that you live with and the fallen world that is your address, that you are your greatest communication problem, that you are heading in a direction of fundamental biblical change in your world of talk.

Understanding the War of Words Means Understanding the War for the Heart 

What is that war for the heart? I think it is most briefly and clearly summarized in a little phrase in 2 Corinthians 5:15. Here Paul is giving a bit of an explanation and a defense of his ministry, and he says one of those brief little phrases that's like opening a door to a universe of explanation and understanding: "Jesus died so that those who live would no longer live for themselves." Sin does something terrible to me. Sin turns me in on myself. Sin shrinks my life to the size of my life. Sin makes me obsessed with my wants, my needs, my feelings. Think about this, brothers and sisters. Sin is fundamentally antisocial, because sin causes me to love me more than anything else and to care for me more than anything else. It causes me to be obsessed by what I want, how I want it, when I want it, why I want it, where I want it, and whom I want to deliver it. Sin makes my life little more than "I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want (are you getting the point?), I want. Sin morphs all of us into a bottomless vat of demands. I'm a vat of expectancy. I'm a vat of entitlement. I wish I could say that this is not the true me, but it is.

Why am I irritated when I'm in traffic? I am irritated because I want to drive on roads paid for by other citizens who choose not to use them. Why am I irritated when my children mess up? I am irritated because I want self-parenting children. I want children who would say to me at every moment of parental instruction, "Yes, Dad. Of course, Dad. You're my father, O wise one that you are." I want my wife to say, "Of course, dear, you're right. You're always right. I have enjoyed so much living in the glory of your rightness." I want chocolate at ready reach. Sadly, my life is often reduced to, "I want, I want, I want." I am so full of a self-focused, self-oriented agenda that you can't even serve me. 

I have an eye condition. I don't see very well at night because my eyes don't shift well between the light and the darkness, and it makes driving a little bit dangerous. I've told Luella that I have figured out how to handle it: there are mobile blobs and stationary blobs, and when I'm driving, the idea is to avoid them both. That doesn't make Luella very secure, so she has offered to do the driving for us. She does that because she loves me. She doesn't mind serving me in that way. That's a blessing. I don't deserve the love or service of anyone. On one occasion we headed out toward an agreed-upon location, and we got to a place where I would have turned but she went straight. I couldn't leave that alone. I said, "Why didn't you turn?"

She said, "This is the way that I go."

I couldn't leave that alone. I said, "I think it's the wrong way."

She said something very logical: "Paul, I don't think it's a matter of right and wrong. I just think it's a matter of preference."

I couldn't leave that alone. I said, "What if my preference is right? You know, Luella, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line."