Giving Account for our Words

Giving Account

for Our Words

Matthew 12:34b-37

  • “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Our Lord brings out a startling teaching in this place about the importance of our speech. He tells us that whatever fills our heart will be revealed in our words. As Moody put it, “That which lies in the well of your thought will come up in the bucket of your speech.” We need to have a purity of heart (Matt. 5:8) if we want our speech to be pure. He goes on to say that every “careless” word will be brought before us in the judgment (Matt. 12:36). The word “careless” is from the Greek argos and means, “inactive, idle, unfruitful, barren” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).

Words are important since they reveal the state of our heart! By our words we will be justified or acquitted (NIV) and by our words we will be condemned (v. 37). In the context (see vv. 22-32), Jesus’ enemies were accusing Him of casting out demons by the ruler of the demons (v. 24)—a severe charge that caused Jesus to warn of speaking against (blaspheming) the Spirit (v. 31-32). What people say about the Lord Jesus and His words will reveal something of their heart. Since our words reveal our heart, we must beware of our speech—especially regarding the Lord Jesus!

If the teaching of our Lord here goes beyond this specific reference, we must be doubly careful about our speech. “The most seemingly insignificant sin—even a slip of the tongue—carries the full potential of all hells’ evil (cf. James 3:6). No infraction against God’s holiness is therefore a trifling thing and each person will ultimately give account of every such indiscretion” (The MacArthur Study Bible). We hear of Jesus being referred to as “the man upstairs.” We hear of God and Christ Jesus and holy objects used in a crude, careless, and coarse manner. We hear words of profanity, minced oaths, vulgarity, lies and “half-lies,” suggestive speech, risqué references, silly joking, and so much more that should cause people to shudder when they realize that “every careless word” will be brought before them in the judgment. Let them repent and let us repent of such speech and use our mouths in a responsible way for God’s glory (cf. Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:5-6).

Richard Hollerman

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