by Don Abbey
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12: 36-37)
We have all heard this childhood rant, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me.” As adults, we all know that this is not a truth. Most of us can recall past comments by others about us that have cut to the core of our soul. As Joanne Lowe (Living Connections Ministries) states, “Have you ever seen a balloon that has been punctured by a fingernail or other object? It only takes a little hole in the balloon to deflate it. It may take a while to completely deflate but eventually all the air goes out. You may try to patch it with something and it might help for a while but it doesn’t last.” That is what discouraging words and sarcastic remarks can do to each of our hearts. Our hearts can be slowly deflated and then patched but never quite restored. People can try to encourage us and tell us not to listen to those who put us down, but the hole is already there. Just remember, Jesus is the only one who can reach down and completely make our hearts new.
So what is it that we should know about words? Jesus spoke a lot about words and the effects that words can have on each of us. As the scripture above (Matthew 12: 36-37) proclaims, we will all be held accountable for our words on the Day of Judgment. We should make sure our words are encouraging and helpful for building each other up. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians states: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) It seems clear to me that God wants us to think very carefully before we use our words. He will judge us on what we have said to others. Read what the Bible has to say about words in Proverbs 15: 1-2, Proverbs 16: 24, Proverbs 17: 27-28, Proverbs 18: 20-21 and Proverbs 21: 23. The list can go on and on!
Another aspect of the use of words is our reaction to them, particularly words that wound our heart. What did Jesus have to say about these kinds of words? In Matthew 5: 11-12 Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Additionally in Luke 6: 27-28, He says: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” It is our job as Christians to pray for those who mistreat us and forgive those who have done us harm.
In other words, Jesus calls us to love. In Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he made it clear that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). So if we are truly born again Christians, we have the capacity to love. So how do we love? In his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13: 4-13), Paul gives us a guideline for how to love. Go back and read it for yourself and put it into practice.
In conclusion, we need to practice the discipline of being impeccable with our words, making sure they are above reproach. We need to steer clear of words that tear down (gossip) and do not build up others. We need to love others as ourselves. Are we an encourager? We need to think about how we have used words in the past to hurt people. Did we ask for forgiveness? We need to think about how others have healed or wounded us by their words. What was our response to them? Remember our goal is the transformation of our lives to become more like Jesus! Amen.
Precious heavenly Father, I continue to celebrate your will in my life. I pray that the words that I speak daily would be pleasing to You. I pray that these words would build others up and not tear them down. Please guide me, Father, during each day to listen more than I speak. Allow my words to reflect Your light in this fallen world. Please encourage me to forgive others who have spoken untruths about me and not hold grudges. Please continue to transform me to be more like You each day. Allow my love for you and others to shine through in my daily walk. In Your precious, holy name I pray. Amen.

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