In Luke 6, Jesus preached on the mountainside to a great multitude of people, and He gave some of the most valuable advice for Christian creatives.
In verse 45, Jesus said, “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.”
In other versions, the quote ends, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
What goes in is what comes out.
We can spend a lot of time devising parameters for what constitutes “Christian” art. But really it comes down to this. If we are full of Christ, if He is our bread and wine and the air we breath, then we will naturally produce Kingdom-minded work. Even when our work seems to have nothing to do with Jesus, He’ll be in it if it’s produced from the overflow of our life in Him.
This is why spiritual development is such a critical part of the School of Kingdom Writers program. By helping writers to be intentional about what they’re storing away in their hearts, we’ve already won the game. Helping them to refine the craft and leverage the publishing industry is just a bonus at that point.
Like so much of Jesus’s advice, this isn’t just theoretical spirituality, it’s also supremely practical.
When a writer comes to me and says he doesn’t know what to write, he’s out of ideas, my first question is, what are you consuming? What are you reading and listening to? Almost always, we just identified the problem. They’ve stopped consuming challenging and life-giving materials. In order to overflow, you must be full beyond capacity.
Sometimes, we do have ideas, but it’s not the overflow we had hoped for. If we’re filling our hearts with social media, we shouldn’t be surprised if our creative work doesn’t reflect the grace of God!
I love politics. I enjoy the philosophical, ideological side of it. I also love the game—watching some of the best communicators in the world (it’s true) craft stories and creatively assemble information. I used to be a talk radio junkie.
And I had to give it up. More than ten years ago, I saw that politics could so easily become an idol for me. While I still do my part to be a responsible and informed citizen, my hope is not in a political solution.
Even today, I have to be careful in the ways I consume and engage with politics. It’s so easy to fill my heart with it, and then that’s what overflows.
Politics is a risky area for me. For others, it could be celebrity gossip, fashion, or even…theology. What makes your blood boil and can lead you down a path that doesn’t look much like Jesus?
Understanding and controlling what we fill our hearts with is as much the work of a Christian writer as putting words on the page. You can’t do one without the other. When we do this one step, we don’t have to carry anxiety about what we’re writing. When we are full of the Spirit, we can trust the Lord to work through us regardless of what we’re writing about.
Sometimes when we think about this topic, we can overemphasize keeping things out. While that’s certainly a factor, it’s as important to fill our hearts with good stuff. If we hyperfocus on keeping things out, we’ll never be full enough to overflow. Our creative work will be dry and uninspired. (Christian fiction, anyone?)
This business of the overflowing heart isn’t just about building a moralistic boundary—see no evil, hear no evil. If you start a diet and only remove junk food, you’ll only make yourself miserable and eventually starve! You have to focus as much on eating healthy foods if you want to be successful.
Fill your heart with good things, and that’s what will overflow in your creative work.
You’re already reading these emails, so that’s a good start. 😊 How else are you intentional about filling your heart with the good things of the Lord? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.