If you want to improve your communication don’t just focus on what to say; take a look at what you’re storing in your heart.

Luke 6:45 (ESV)

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Two Types of Treasure

One of mankind’s most significant challenges in the area of communication is not the mouth but the heart. This verse makes it clear that what comes out of the mouth comes from the overflow (or abundance) of the heart. One thing that caught our attention with Luke 6:45 was the word treasure since it seemed a bit unusual to use it in the context of the heart. We had only ever associated treasure with something good, we wondered what evil treasure was.

Strong’s concordance defined treasure as this:
2344 thēsaurós (from 5087 /títhēmi, “to put, set”) –
properly, stored-up treasure (riches);
(figuratively) a storehouse of treasure, including (treasured) thoughts stored up in the heart and mind.

If you treasure something, you value it. It’s something you care for it, if it’s an object then you might polish it or put it on display so that you can stare at it. When it comes to the area of your thought life though, you might not even be aware that you have put something in that position of being ‘treasured’. If you go back and visit thoughts frequently, whether positive or negative, that’s what is going to spill out in your conversation.

Most people when they start dating their spouse aren’t thinking negative thoughts, they concentrate on the good things, the things they like. If you talk to someone who is newly in love, they can’t help but talk about their loved one in gushing terms. I (Lainey) can remember boring everyone to tears talking about Roy and how wonderful he was. I treasured little things he had said and done, and he filled my thought life. Out of the overflow of my heart, my mouth spoke.

What’s in Your Storehouse?

Fast forward a few years and that overflow started to change. The things I thought about were the areas in which Roy hadn’t lived up to my expectations. I concentrated on the little habits which had started to irritate me, and in my mind, I built up scenarios of why. Those scenarios weren’t based on truth, they were based on my imagination, and I have an active imagination! Whenever Roy would do something else that annoyed me, I would add one more ‘treasure’ to the storeroom. When we would have a disagreement, I would parade all those ‘treasures’ before him.

When I met with my friends, we would take out all those ‘treasures’ and complain to each other about our spouses. Sometimes I found a ‘treasure’ I had no idea I had. Whenever I heard my friend talk about a lousy habit her husband had, a habit that Roy also practised, I found I had discovered another thing to put in that storehouse.

Clearing Your Storehouse

God finally got my attention, and I realised that my thinking was destructive. I needed to empty the storehouse of the things that I held against Roy. The mechanism that God gives us to do this is forgiveness. If you want to improve your communication forgiveness is essential! Yet, many people find it difficult to let go of their ‘treasure’.

One of my guilty pleasures in life is watching programmes about hoarding. I’m always fascinated by the fact that what many people consider to be junk or rubbish, someone else can regard as a treasure. Families intervene and try and explain the damage that hoarding is doing to their life, their relationships and even their health and yet something compels the hoarder to hang on to it. Many hoarders have a fear of letting go, they can’t imagine life without the things they have gathered around them. We often see couples unwilling to forgive their spouse, reluctant to let go of the ‘treasure’ that they have gathered around them, even though it’s doing them damage, ruining their relationship, their family and yet they cling on.

Getting Rid of the Tendency to Hoard

Don’t fear the process of forgiveness! Once the treasure room has been emptied, then you can start the process of filling it with real treasures. You might wonder where that treasure will come, Philippians 4:7-8 (ESV) makes it clear.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Over to You
  • What type of treasure have you stored in your heart?
  • How do you usually talk to, or talk about your spouse?
  • Do you need to do a spring clean?
  • Are you holding on to any ‘treasure’ which is damaging your relationship?

Extract from Improving Communication by Roy & Lainey Hitchman