“You must determine if a tree is good or rotten. You can recognize good trees by their delicious fruit. But if you find rotten fruit, you can be certain that the tree is rotten. The fruit defines the tree. But you who are known as the Pharisees are rotten to the core! You’ve been poisoned by the nature of a venomous snake. How can your words be good and trustworthy if you are rotten within? For what has been stored up in your hearts will be heard in the overflow of your words! “When virtue is stored within, the hearts of good and upright people will produce good fruit. But when evil is hidden within, those who are evil will produce evil fruit. You can be sure of this: when the day of judgment comes, everyone will be held accountable for every careless word he has spoken. Your very words will be used as evidence against you, and your words will declare you either innocent or guilty.“ – Matthew 12:33-3 (TPT).
Sadly, we seem to be living in an increasingly uncivil environment. From presidential politics to random internet comments, there seems to be more rude, demeaning, insulting, and aggressive language and behavior in our society than in the past. But this devotional is not political, nor does it have anything to do with our First Amendment right of “Freedom of Speech.” It has one purpose and one purpose only. How do we talk to each other in a Christ-honoring way?
As followers of Jesus, we must understand the impact of our words. In the Matthew 12 passage above, we see that civility flows out of character. The Pharisees were on a mission to tear Jesus down. They tried to entrap Him at the beginning of chapter 12 by charging His disciples with unlawful action for eating a little grain out of the field on the Sabbath, the day set aside for worship and rest in the Jewish culture.
Beginning in verse 22, Jesus heals a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute, and rather than rejoicing and being amazed like everyone else, the Pharisees are not happy. The crowd was saying,” Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?” (vs 23) The religious leaders respond in verse 24: “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.”
Jesus continues in verse 33 to speak about the reality of words. With this teaching, we once again see the eloquence of Jesus. Jesus teaches us our conversations reveal our character. From our hearts, we will either speak words of truth and love or we will speak words that are either untrue or words that are true but not loving. Verse 34 (TPT) says, “…For what has been stored up in your hearts will be heard in the overflow of your words!” Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
This not an easy discipline to apply to our lives. But nothing is impossible with God. It’s a daily practice. Yes, we will mess up at times. But we need to learn and keep moving forward. The most important thing to remember is that our words have one purpose: to glorify God.
- Read James 3:2-6: What are different ways you can use your words to give life instead of destroying it?
- Read Luke 6:45. If a stranger listened to everything you said for an entire day, what conclusions would they come to about what’s in your heart? What would they determine is your purpose in life? Would they hear evidence of a growing relationship with God?