Our Words, Our Destiny
I was reading in the Gospel of Matthew when I came across these verses spoken by Jesus Christ:
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
I was afraid.
I thought back over not my entire life, but back over only the current day: and I was both amazed and ashamed at many of my words… for they were not carefully chosen words, but carelessly chosen words. I wondered why, at the time those words were spoken, I had not even so much as given a thought as to what I was saying. Certainly, these words that Jesus spoke were stern, but there was a compelling reason for that.
Let’s take a look at the context surrounding Matthew 12:36-37:
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. (Matthew 12:33)
If we equate a tree to a life, there is a process by which a tree or a life is made good… that is a process of nurturing: careful and deliberate cultivation, feeding and pruning. What this process produces is fruit that is good; for an apple tree, that will be an abundance of fresh and robust apples, for a life, that will be an abundance of goodness in the heart:
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matthew 12:35)
Our words are an index of the condition of our hearts, and they are the measure of our true character. Our true character will always show forth, many times when we are not even aware that is happening, because our mouths speak what our hearts are filled with (italic emphasis mine):
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34)
It is terrifying to consider… and to admit… that ‘careless words’ are the product of a vain and trifling heart. So that we may be convicted in our hearts that we often speak as we should not, here is what ‘careless words’ are:
-Words that accomplish nothing.
-Words without an edifying, uplifting purpose.
-Words that reject Jesus Christ.
Think about this. How many times each day do we speak words that accomplish nothing, do not have a purpose that uplifts others, and that dishonor God and the One that He has sent? If we speak in such a fashion, how can we dare to call ourselves Christians and have justification before a God who knows our hearts, as it is written?
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
The power of words, the work of the tongue, is evident throughout Holy Scripture:
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)
“Would a wise man answer with empty notions or fill his belly with the hot east wind? Would he argue with useless words, with speeches that have no value? But you even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God. Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you. (Job 15:2-6)
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6)
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (James 3:9-10)
The bottom line is this: when our words reveal that in our hearts we have contempt for the people that God loves, our ungodliness is revealed.
Jesus has, as always, the last word (italic emphasis mine):
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'” (Matthew 15:10-20)
I am filled with Godly sorrow to confess before both God, and you as my reader, that very many times, my words have been ‘careless words’. Jesus said this:
As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. (John 9:4)
What I understand these words of Jesus to mean is that I currently have the ‘day’… which is life… to do the work of God. When ‘night’… which is death… comes, what I have done in the time that I had the day (my own words, the fullness of my heart, whether good or evil) will determine what God will say to me when I stand before Him on the Day of Judgment.
Jesus Christ spoke the truth:
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5)
Oh, that God will convict us of our sin and careless words, that we will turn from them to have an abundance of goodness in our hearts, so that our words will be salt and light to those around us, and God will be honored and glorified in the words of His only Son Jesus Christ! What greater gift could we have than the Living God whose only desire is that we would spend eternity with Him in glory? Is it worth indulgence in sins and careless words only to gain an eternity of hellfire?
Remember this: it will be by our own words that we are either justified or condemned!