Last week I did something I never do: I turned on my television in the middle of the day to see what was on. Now I remember why I never do that.
Although, as I was flipping through the channels I saw a face that was very familiar from my childhood: Fred Rogers. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was one of those shows I watched faithfully when I was a little child, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it's still being aired after all these years.
So I decided to sit down and watch it, and see how my perceptions of the show would change since my childhood days. Mister Rogers was talking about music that day, and he told his "neighbors" that he wanted to take us to meet a friend of his, who was a professional musician. Off we went, down the street, to his friend's house.
As we got to the friend's door, Mister Rogers said something that caught my attention. I think any one of us would have said: "I can't wait for you to meet my friend -- he's a wonderful musician." But instead of that, Mister Rogers said, "I can't wait for you to meet my friend -- he's a wonderful person."
Did you notice the difference? "A wonderful musician" vs. "a wonderful person."
Why did I find that so interesting? Because through the clue of that one little word, Mister Rogers has given us a window into his heart and told us what he values most about a person: character over talent. Most of us, on the other hand, are quick to value talent over character.
The lesson in this is two-fold.
First, Jesus told us throughout Matthew 23 that what is on the inside is far more important than what's on the outside. We can brag all day about the things we do, but in the long run, it's who we are that matters to God.
Second, Jesus told us in Matthew 15:18 that everything that proceeds out of our mouth comes from "inside." Just as Mister Rogers' words gave us a window into his heart, every time we speak we give everyone a glimpse of the kind of person we are.
A wise man will take this lesson to heart, and not simply guard his tongue, but also use the things he says as a way of understanding -- and changing -- the kind of person he is.