By Your Words

by Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Idle Words.

Jesus gave a severe warning to the religious leaders of his day, a warning meant for all who have both a "heart problem" and a "mouth problem."

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 NKJV

James describes the tongue as a "fire, a world of iniquity" and tells us "no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:6, 8 NKJV.) So what’s a body to do?

The antidote to this poison lies in a "heart transplant," a new heart. Jesus said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34.) He also said, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:18-19 NKJV.)

How is it that an "idle"* word will be the evidence to either acquit or condemn every person? The clue to the answer lies in its source, the heart which reveals who we really are, what we really think and value. The words that just "pop out" of our mouths under stress can tell us a lot about the evil within that we usually keep hidden even from ourselves. Those "foot in the mouth" words we find embarrassing and often hurtful to others give us a window to see into our hearts.

Apologies can't always soothe the hurt our words inflict on others, but they can help. God will forgive us the sins we confess and will clean out the evil lurking in our inner man. He can even begin to restore damaged relationships when the people involved are willing to reconcile.

Paul admonishes us all:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:29-30 NIV

We can practice putting our words to work for the benefit of others; our words do not have to be "idle" or "careless." Our hearts need to store up "good treasure' out of the Word of God and our thoughts can be made obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5.)

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Hebrews 3:1

Whatever God instructs us to do, he will make possible. We may not be able to control our tongues completely, but we can learn from our mistakes and go to our high priest for the mercy and grace we need to speak the words which will not condemn us (Hebrews 4:14-16.)

*The word translated "idle" in the NKJV or "careless" in the NIV "means the word that is thoughtless or profitless." The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Volume 12 Issue 8 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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