As we all know, and should proclaim from the rooftops, our confidence is in the sufficient work of Christ. Paul writes, “For He made Himself who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2nd Corinthians 5:21). That confidence should enable us to walk in this world knowing we have “eternal life” (1st John 5:13). Okay, with that said, we are not to walk is this world ignorant of other truths. Paul exhorted the church in Ephesus saying, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). Such an attitude is necessary because “each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Maybe that is what happened to God’s people of old, which resulted in judgment and eventually their captivity. They failed to pay attention to the details.
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak,
they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
The amazing thing about God’s mercy (which never ends), is that it presents daily opportunities for God’s people to be transformed. I believe one of the areas in my life that needs special attention is my words. Jesus cautions us about “idle words.” The word idle here means unprofitable or pernicious; that is, having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way. Listen to how the ETRV translates these words, “And I tell you that people will have to explain about every careless thing they have said” (Matthew 12:36). Words are powerful and because they are, they need our attention…daily.
When we want to learn about the power of words, we need only to spend a little time in the letter from James. He provides us with imagery of the power of our words: they are like “bits in horses mounts” (James 3:3), a “very small rudder” that can turn a large ship (James 3:4), and “a little fire kindles” a forest (James 3:5). I can understand why he would pen these words, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things” (James 3:5). So treacherous are the words of mankind that James would pen these sobering words, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). Sadly, we need not look very far at times to grasp this truth. I truly need to pay attention to my words.
That being said, I want you to notice that “no man can tame the tongue.” Alone, we are feeble at best, but when we allow Jesus to be Lord over our words, amazing things can happen. James Coffman writes, “Speech is one of the greatest endowments of humanity…” Let us use our words in such a way, that we bring glory to God each time we speak. It’s true that we will never be perfect in speech in this world, but if we walk with the Lord, and pay attention to the details of our speech, we can become more effective with it. Thus, we can walk confidently knowing that one day we will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”