Idle Words

Matthew 12:36-37
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

We will all give an account someday.  So often we think we will be judged based on the big things, the noticable things, whether good or bad.  We say, “Oh, I did this great thing for God.  It was very evident what I did.  People could see it and know that it was something I had done.”  Or, “Boy, I really blew that one.  Everyone saw how I messed up.  I had my chance and I failed miserably.”

But we must be careful not to overlook the little things, for we will give an account for all of our idle words.  In language, we might talk about “throwaway” words—things like “you know,” “like,” or “so.”  We use these words often in our speech, but they add nothing to the meaning of what we are saying.  They are unnecessary in our sentences, and we can express a complete thought or idea without them, so let’s not allow idle words to clutter up our speech with things that are unhelpful or even hurtful.

Words are ours in infinite supply.  There is no quota of words for the day or a limit on how many phrases we may utter before the day is done.  And, just like many other things in life, they can be used for good or for evil.  They can be productive or idle.  They can build someone up or tear them down.   A kind word at just the right moment can uplift someone having a horrible day.  An unkind word can hurt deeply.  Are our words small whispers of encouragement that help others?  Are they sweet and filled with love?  Or are they laced with sarcasm, maybe meant to cut others down?  Are they intentionally hurtful or discouraging to others?  Are they merely idle words, said for the sake of saying them with no value at all?

Let us be careful of what we say.  It’s easy to fling words into the air without a thought behind them.  We may talk about people when we think they can’t hear us or make fun of people to their face.  These kinds of words serve no purpose.  Or we may use words to proclaim the good news of Christ and tell others what He has done for us in our lives.  These words can make a difference for all eternity.  Whether written or spoken, let’s be careful to avoid idle words, because God is listening to everything we say.

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