How important are the words that we use each day? Is it ok to use whatever words come to mind, afterall we may have got brought up hearing these words and we don’t really mean any harm and there are many other people out there who do much worse? Does God view our words this way and how important are the things we say to and about other people.
The following article will lay out 5 points taken from scripture which will give us an insight into how God views and intends for us to use our words.
1) Judged according to our Words.
Matthew 12:36 – Jesus tells us clearly and in a very direct teaching that;
“everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken.”
He then says that by our words we will either be acquitted or condemned. This gives us an insight into what the day of judgement will be like, what it will be based on and of the importance of our words. Surely this means that the words we chose to use each day have eternal significance. It also implies there is a standard for what we say and how we should speak. Let’s look more into what that standard should look like.
2) Our words reveal who we are
Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that;
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”
Your words therefore are part of who you are, they are a sign to the world of what type of person you are and what goes on within you. Just as your skin reflects was is going on within so the words we use are a mirror to what is going on inside of us. As James says in chapter 3:6 re: the tongue;
“corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
Note the use of the word “Whole” here. You are not simply speaking words which are incidental and have little meaning, but it is indicated here that they actually define and show your very deepest self.
Are we happy with the picture our words paint of us? Would they paint a healthy, inspiring, fair and loving individual or would they suggest an ugly, hard and unforgiving heart or is it somewhere in between?
3) Proves your religion worthless
James 1:26 tells us that those who;
“do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
For those then who make the claim to be Christians but don’t see the importance of keeping a rein on their tongue the bible says your deceiving yourselves. Your relationship with God is revealed to be worthless if you refuse to closely watch your words and conversations.
4) God’s goal for our speech
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building other’s up according to their needs.”
God has a goal for our speech and whilst it certainly includes avoiding unwholesome conversation the overall goal is that what we say will build other people up. Everything we say will be compared to this goal. The problem with bad language, crude jokes, slander etc is that it doesn’t build other people up, and more often than not it often tears them down.
5) What speech to avoid
The bible says as seen above that we should avoid unwholesome talk, then a few verses later in Ephesians we are told that coarse joking is also out of place for God’s people.
Another challenge is laid down in scripture re: our speech and that is slander. God’s word repeatedly tells us that we are not to be involved in slander, that is to talk about someone behind their back, not allowing them any defense to the comments made about them. How far does this stretch and who are we not to slander? Is some slander acceptable towards some people in certain circumstances?
Titus 3:2 tells us that God’s people are to;
“Be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no-one.”
God wants his people to slander no-one, who does this cover, well it means just about everyone on planet earth. Your work colleagues, close and not so close friends, family members and distant relatives, your neighbours, ex-girlfriend/boyfriend and your enemies, those who slander you, insult you, criticise you and seek to bring you down. Yes you did here that right, God asks us to go further than what we might expect by refusing to talk negatively about even our enemies.
This is consistent with scripture as we are told that it is wrong to bring slander against even satan. The angel Michael is held up in scripture for his good example as he refused to bring any slanderous comments against the devil (Jude 1:9).
If we cannot slander satan then clearly we are to slander no-one. I encourage us therefore to watch ourselves when in conversation, as to refrain from slander is not the way of the world and we can easily find ourselves caught up in it.
Our speech is therefore not just meaningless words said in the heat of the moment which we can then distance ourselves from. They often represent what is going on inside of us, reflecting our thought processes and as Jesus warned us, we will have to answer for every careless word.
Our words will either reveal the authenticity of our faith or will prove it worthless, and most importantly of all through scripture God’s reveals to us his goal for our speech.
His goal is that we will use our words to build other people up, whoever they may be, according to their need. As the picture above states, we should seek to say nothing except what is helpful in building up others for their benefit and not for our own. After all this is exactly what we would like others to do for us or for someone we dearly loved.