“Either consider the tree good and its fruit good, or consider the tree rotten and its fruit rotten. A tree is known by its fruit. Children of snakes! How can you speak good things while you are evil? What fills the heart comes out of the mouth. Good people bring out good things from their good treasure. But evil people bring out evil things from their evil treasure. I tell you that people will have to answer on Judgment Day for every useless word they speak. By your words you will be either judged innocent or condemned as guilty” (Matthew 12:33-37, Common English Bible).
“Good people bring out good things from their good treasure.” I love that sentence. I’m not so crazy about the next two. “But evil people bring out evil things from their evil treasure. I tell you that people will have to answer on Judgment Day for every useless word they speak.”
I find that last sentence at least a little bit frightening. I know that, without question, I have hurt people in my life by some of the things that I say. Sometimes, in employee-supervisor relationships it is necessary. The truth must be spoken, even if that truth is painful to hear.
At other times I have hurt people because I wasn’t very mindful of what I was saying. A statement is made without thinking. All too often, pain is the result. A rift becomes present in the relationship. Apologies become necessary. Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, the relationship never returns to where it had been before. It all happens because of a careless attitude toward someone else.
Then there are the other times. These are the times when I just don’t care. I make hurtful statements. I know they are hurtful and yet I say them anyway. There must be malice in my heart for the way I am treating another human being. I am not acting like a child of God and I certainly am not treating the other person as if they are a child of God.
And if all these times aren’t scary enough, Jesus says, “…people will have to answer on Judgment Day for every useless word they speak.” I will have to answer for every useless word I speak. In the course of a day how many things do I say that really don’t matter? How many things do I say that do not build people up and instead hurt and tear them down?
And, according to our lesson, I will be held accountable for all those things. Why would that be? Well, at the most basic of levels, when we are hurtful and speaking useless words, we are being less than loving toward neighbor and if we are less than loving toward a neighbor we can see, we also are acting less than loving toward a God we cannot see. And, for both there has to be accountability.
That is the bad news. The good news actually comes from our lesson yesterday. Verse 31 reads, “Therefore, I tell you that people will be forgiven for every sin and insult to God.” I need to seek forgiveness from the neighbor I have hurt and from the God who I fail when I fail to act and speak with love.
What are you doing to get rid of the useless words from your life?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved