“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 recognised by its fruit.
34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
35The 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.
36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Did I say that?!
Jesus was increasingly in confrontation with the Pharisees, the religious authorities. In chapter 12, Matthew describes how the Pharisees had refused to soften their legalistic regulations, condemning him for healing on the Sabbath. No longer welcome in their synagogues, Jesus continued to perform supernatural healings. The Pharisees attributed these life-giving acts to the power of evil. Jesus pointed out the contradiction of this “negative spin”. To deliberately call good evil, and light darkness, is to choose to close one’s eyes to “God at work.” To persist in this “blasphemy against God’s Spirit” is unforgiveable.
Jesus points out that their words are the overflow of their evil hearts.
We should never excuse our cruel, malicious, hurtful or put-down words with the cop-out phrase, “I was only joking.” Those words are still sourced from the heart.
Today in the age of internet and social media, we know more than ever that words once uttered or published cannot be taken back. How wise to wait overnight before pressing the send button on that angry, belligerent, or slanderous email or post! It is hard to repair the damage done to others, or to our own reputation, by words uttered without thought, in the heat of the moment, or when our guard was down. How much more serious to be called to account by God for “every foolish word we say.”
(See also headline 36; “What’s in your heart’s the trouble – lies, lust, greed, hatred: – Jesus”)
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14
Geoff Francis is a retired General Practitioner, and the author and editor of this website.