”But the words you speak come from the heart — that’s what defiles you.” — Matthew 15:18 NLT

Thinking carries a hefty price tag.

My two oldest grandboys often appear to act without thinking, but they don’t. When the younger of the two decides to slug the older one, he has thought about it first. Had he thought, I shouldn’t hit my brother no matter how mean he’s been to me, he would not have hit him. Had his older brother listened to the voice that told him not to hit his brother instead of the one that told him to disregard what Meme and Pop and his mom had taught him, he would not have hit him in the first place.

When they suddenly run over for a hug and a quick, “I love you,” they do so because they have thought about how much they love Meme and Pop — perhaps because of all the things we do for them or give them. Whatever the motivation, they act because they have thought.

In fact, they never do anything without thinking, as small as the thoughts might be at their young ages. And it doesn’t change as we get older. I borrow money for a new car because I have thought about how much I need, or want, another vehicle. I speak an unkind word because I’ve thought about how much someone aggravates me. I don’t do a kind deed because I’ve thought about how it would take away time I’d rather spend doing something else.

Jesus pegged it when He said the words we speak — good or bad — come from our hearts because we have thought about them. Good words come from minds that have pondered on good, whereas bad words come from minds that have meditated on evil.

For Jesus to charge us with good or bad hearts means we have the power to choose our actions and our thoughts — and the resulting words — which also means I have the power to determine the health of my spiritual heart. Certain things keep my physical heart healthy, and the same applies to my spiritual heart.

Infiltrating my mind with God’s principles sets me up for healthy thinking — and proper speaking. Realizing the wonderful words God speaks to me also makes me want to speak the same to others. Words that build up, not tear down. Words that encourage, not discourage. Words that give life and hope.

Think about what you’re thinking about so that what you speak will be worth listening to.

Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, minister and author who serves as managing editor for Christian Devotions and as a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. Wiles is the pastor of Buffalo Baptist Church in McCormick. He is the author of six books and has been published in numerous publications. His latest book, “A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Busy World,” is available on Amazon.