The Importance of Words
Pastor Steve Ellison
The first 11 verses of James chapter 3 tell of the power of the tongue. Mostly they describe the wickedness and destructive power of our speech. Sadly, these verses point out our inability to keep our tongues in check and the wretched consequences of our words. These ideas were not original with James. He was only reiterating what he had certainly heard from Jesus. In Matthew 12, the Pharisees accused Jesus of doing miraculous things by the power of Satan. The rebuking response from Jesus is stunning. He points out that what the Pharisees are doing is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and declares that this is the unpardonable sin which will not be forgiven throughout all eternity. Our words seem to be important, do they not? Jesus went on to point out that our words are absolute indicators of the condition of our hearts. If my words are good, then so is my heart. If my words are evil, then so is my heart.
Lest we think that we only need to watch out for this terrible, terrible sin, Jesus, as He usually did, took the opportunity to up the requirements. Other less evil speech must be avoided as well. Jesus shocked his listeners and us by saying, “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.” (Matthew 12:36-37, NASU) If Jesus’ declaration does not give you occasion for sober reflection, I do not know what will. Each one of us will give an account not just of the vile and evil things that we say but also every “idle word” we speak! I am sobered by that. I have spoken a great many “idle words” during my lifetime.
From the beginning of time, humans have had opportunity to speak idle words. The modern technology explosion has greatly increased our opportunities to be judged for this sin. Try these on for size. Every email, every text message, every Snapchat post, every Facebook post, every blog post, every Instagram post, every tweet, every conversation, every comment attached to every article, blog, etc. will be examined. We the authors will give an accounting for every single word in every one of them. I am humbled.
We seem to have grown very calloused to the destructive power of our words. It appears that we are much more willing to put things in writing on social media that we would never say. It seems to be much easier for us to write things on our phones, computers, tablets, etc. that we would not say face-to-face. Our frankness often spills over into attack and sometimes vicious attack. Without opportunity for face-to-face rebuttal, our claims and accusations are prone to be baseless. We would do well to remember that our idle words sometimes drive people away from the Savior we claim to love and serve. We ought to remember that our idle words often invalidate our testimony of the Savior. We should remember that our idle words often keep people whom we have invited to church from ever responding that invitation. Furthermore, unbelievers tend to apply the shortcomings of every Christian to every Christian, so your idle words very well convince unbelievers to reject invitations to all churches. In any case, we will stand at the judgment seat of Christ one day. Jesus said that we will give an account for every idle word. You may want to make that the screen saver on all of your devices. ..……….email@example.com