A humorous, though likely fabricated, story is told of President Theodore Roosevelt. It recounts how he tired of the endless, banal greetings and conversations at state events. Supposedly, one evening at a state ball, the President stood in a receiving line greeting one guest after another. “All of them said the same thing,” recounts author Chuck Swindloll, “smiled the same tired smile, repeating the right greetings by rote, talking with their mouths, not their heads or their hearts.”
Tired of shaking hands and smiling this big smile and responding with the usual inanities used at such occasions, Roosevelt did something absolutely outrageous. Convinced that no one was listening anyway, he began to greet the rest of his guests by saying with a smile, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” Everyone smiled vacuously and said things like: “Wonderful!” “Lovely!” “Keep up the good work” One diplomat was listening, however. He leaned over and whispered in Roosevelt’s ear, “I’m sure she had it coming to her!”
Swindoll goes on to describe how “empty Christian talk … filled with clichés and bromides … and nonsensical small talk” work to “drive him up a wall.”
[Dr. Charles R. Swindoll has served as pastor of some of our nation’s most prominent churches, chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, and Bible teacher on the internationally syndicated radio program Insight for Living. He has written more than thirty best-selling books, including STRENGTHENING YOUR GRIP, LAUGH AGAIN, THE GRACE AWAKENING, and the million-selling GREAT LIVES FROM GOD'S WORD series.]
We’ve all engaged in it—empty chatter. Though not every gathering of the brethren need be filled from dawn until dusk with deep spiritual debate or discourses on systematic theology, shouldn't some (nay, most) of our time be focused on discussing the deeper things of the Christian life and faith? Shouldn’t we be spending our time in an ongoing exchange of mutual edification, spiritual encouragement, and accountability? All within the context of our routine, daily lives, of course.
Let’s not waste time “talking with our mouths” instead of our “heads and hearts.”
“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).