Every Idle Word
Jesus said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 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.” Matthew 12:34-37.
Here Jesus chose to speak about the awful responsibility of words. In the context of this passage, the Pharisees and scribes spoke some terrible words. They called the Son of God the helper of the devil. 12:22-24. Jesus laid down two laws.
First, the state of our hearts can be seen through the words we chose to speak. Solomon said, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7. Jesus said, “Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matthew 15:16-20. Here the scribes and Pharisees were shocked because Jesus made sure that they understood that what matters is not the state of people’s ritual observance, but the state of their hearts (minds). If Jesus is right, the Pharisees were blind guides who had no idea of the way of God. However, “if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Matthew 15:14. What comes out of the mouth is really in the heart. When people observe what some people, even Christians, are saying on “social media,” what do they hear? As Christians, we need to remind ourselves that Christianity consists in personal relationships and in an attitude toward God and our neighbor. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8.
We do have to listen to someone or read what someone writes on “social media.” whether that person’s mind is clear or whether it is cluttered. We are continually revealing the state of our hearts (minds) by the words we speak or write. As a Christian, I may not like what a person believes. However, I can still show respect to them instead of using “idle” words in referring to them. What are idle words? The Greek word here is “ἀργός.” Thayer says, “….of things from which no profit is derived, although they can and ought to be productive; as of fields, trees, gold and silver, (cf. Grimm on Sap. 14:5; [L. and S. s. v. I. 2]); unprofitable, ῥῆμα ἀργόν, by litotes i. q. pernicious (see ἄκαρπος):…” and gives Matthew 12:36 as a reference. Idle words are words that serve no profit or are not productive. Notice again that Jesus was called a helper of “Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” Matthew 12:24. How are we to speak of those who are our leaders in the world? Surely, we understand that we are not to us religious titles. However, we can refer to them according to the public office they hold or elected to and not use idle words to describe them. How are we to speak of those who are leaders in the church (elders, deacons, preachers, and teachers)? We will give an account!
Second, Jesus wanted them to know that they would give an account for the “idle” words. Jesus said it best when He stated, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Matthew 15:8. The Holy Spirit said, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness…” Romans 3:10-14. The Holy Spirit also said, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” James 3:10. Sometimes we speak words without thinking. These idle words show what we are really like and think. Are we thinking on the right things? The Holy Spirit said,” Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8. When we are on guard, we are careful what we say and how we say it. However, when we are off guard, our words reveal our character. It should humble us and warns us to remember that our words, which show what we are, are the words we speak when our guard is down.
Bobby D. Gayton