We must remember that to avoid sin and do what is pleasing to the Lord, we must be proactive. If we are not deliberately pursuing what is right, we will very easily default to what is wrong. So what do we do in the case of careless words?
As I said in the beginning, careless words are those that happen when we just don’t think. Therefore, we must start thinking. To be careful with our words we must cultivate the habit of thoughtfully considering two primary factors:
When it comes to considering our words, the apostle Paul provides us with a wonderful grid through which to pass our words before we speak them.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
While this verse is particularly focused on our thoughts, it most assuredly applies to our words as well. After all, Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:34 that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Our words proceed from the thoughts of our hearts. We would do well to conform both to what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Following this list alone would prevent us from speaking much of the careless, unnecessary, and insensitive words we say.
I know I have been guilty of making such comments without stopping to consider the person to whom I am speaking. One evening while I was in college I was hanging out with a group of friends. We were blowing off steam after a grueling semester and started telling each other jokes. When it was my turn, I told a very silly, innocent joke poking fun at mothers. Everyone laughed, except for one friend. Later, it dawned on me why. This particular friend had lost his own mother to cancer just a few years before. The next day, I went to him and asked for forgiveness for being insensitive. My joke, while perfectly innocent, was not appropriate, timely, or edifying when I considered my friend’s experience.
Our words matter. Not just because of the effect they have on those around us but because we want to honor and please God. There is no more sobering verse in scripture about our speech than Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:36.
"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak."
As believers, we will not face the condemnatory judgment like that of those who reject Christ (Romans 8:1), but we will still have to give an answer for how we used our words. I appreciate the wise words of J.C. Ryle, who in his commentary on this passage in Matthew had this to say:
"There is nothing, perhaps, to which most men pay less attention than their words. They go through their daily work, speaking and talking without thought or reflection, and seem to imagine that if they do what is right, it matters but little what they say. But is it so? Are our words so utterly trifling and unimportant? We dare not say so, with such a passage of Scripture as this before our eyes. Our words are the evidence of the state of our hearts as surely as the taste of the water is evidence of the state of the spring." —J.C. Ryle
Beloved saints, our words matter. All of them.
Just like our Heavenly Father, we have the ability to create with our words. Let us be diligent not to squander such power or to wield it flippantly. Let us dedicate ourselves to creating that which is pleasing to our Lord and gives grace to all who hear it.
Our Words Matter Scripture Memory Cards
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How will you use your words today to heal, build up, and bring joy to others?
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