By Your Words…
-Part of the AND JESUS SAID series by Grant B. Caldwell -
Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).
There is nothing closer to the heart than the tongue. It is “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (verse 34). Our selection of words is based on that which we allow to dwell in our hearts. The wise man said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). As an idle man or an idle machine is of no value, so words can be used which are worthless. They do not produce that which is good. How often do we say something we really do not mean, or that to which we have not given careful thought? And how often later do we wish we could take it back? “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts” (Proverbs 17:14).
Giving Account In Judgment
In judgment, we will be responsible for our charitable deeds (Matthew 25:31ff) and our willingness to obey the gospel (Matthew 7:21; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). It is equally true that in judgment, we will be responsible for our words. James said, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (3:6). Interestingly, this is the only time that the original word gehenna (hell) is used except by Jesus. How would our words change if before we spoke, we thought about having to answer to God for what we were about to say?
Justified Or Condemned
Words are powerful. We have all heard the expression “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Good words may
strengthen the spirit. The Hebrew writer said, “the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword” (4:12). Paul said, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). When one’s heart is filled with wise words which originate in the word of God, his speech can be a blessing to others in helping them to think and act more honorably. This speech will justify us before God. Evil words may damage the spirit. The wise man said, “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3). James said, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (1:19-20). When one’s heart is filled with bitterness or vanity which originate in sin, his speech can destroy himself and others. This speech will condemn us before God.