Matthew 12:34b, 36-37
“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…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.”
Have you ever said something that ended up being hurtful to someone? Perhaps you cracked a joke or used sarcasm. This is the story of my life. I have always had a sharp wit and have been quick to wield it, but once the damage was done I would follow it up with, “I’m sorry. I didn’t really mean it that way” or perhaps “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Jesus doesn’t mince words. Whatever comes out of your mouth started in your heart, and just in case you have forgotten, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Look at the next part of today’s verse: we will all have to give an account for every careless word we have spoken. Uh oh.
The average person speaks 18,000 – 25,000 words per day, which equates to a 54-page book. Over the course of a year…that balloons to sixty-six, 800-page books and Jesus is reading every word on every page. “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” How many careless words have you spoken in the past year? How about the past month? The past week? Yesterday? Today?
Here is a gut check for all of us: we mean every word that we say. Sometimes the things that must be said are going to do some damage, and that is when we really need to check out motivation. Am I saying it out of love, or am I laying down some kind of spiritual trump card in my arrogance? I like the way Richard Blackaby addresses this:
“Are you speaking words of life, or are you speaking words of death?”
My wife and I ask our kids “Are you building your brother/sister up, or tearing them down?” It’s a question we all need to ask ourselves on a daily basis.
Given the darkness of the human heart, sometimes the most Christ like thing we can do is shut up. Remember: each one of us is a prolific author with our words and Christ is taking the time to read every page. Will those pages acquit you, or condemn you?