This is what Jesus said: “Your words show what is in your hearts. Good people bring good things out of their hearts, but evil people bring evil things out of their hearts.” Our speech is the outward demonstration of what is really within the heart. There really isn’t any room to believe that a constant stream of gossip, backbiting, slander, and negative comments is anything but coming from a heart of evil. A person who speaks such words is not a loving, gracious, merciful person. But the person who continually encourages, uplifts, and seeks to be positive reflects a deep heart of love for others.
Therefore, simply altering our speech around certain persons is not the point and does no good. That kind of behavior only breeds hypocrisy and is two-faced, a la the Pharisees. Instead, the place to aim is the heart from where the speech arises. And the only way to truly renovate a heart is to sub-contract the project to Jesus.
The people we typically hang-out with the most are the people that most influence our attitudes and our speech. So, if we spend copious amounts of time with Jesus it is inevitable that our hearts will become more like his and, thus, our words will be in alignment with the words and ways of Christ. For, it is God who replaces a hard heart of stone with a soft heart of flesh. Be rooted in Christ and the fruit of the tree will demonstrate it.
Sovereign God, you hear every careless word spoken and see each harmful conversation as it takes place. Our guilt is very great! Forgive my egregious sin against you through the things I have said, and the things I have left unsaid. Please let the benevolent and generous Christ rule my heart through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.