Peter said something brilliant when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” Peter quickly responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
Now catch Jesus’ reply to Peter: “This was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in Heaven” (Matthew 16:17).
When I have my mind open to the things of God, the words I use are rock solid: “On this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hades will not overcome it” (verse 18).
But just a couple of verses later, Peter’s heavenly insight vanishes. Jesus told him “you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (v. 23). Jesus went even further to say that Peter’s words were a “stumbling block” to Him.
Did you notice the contrast? My Father spoke to your mind versus You aren’t listening to God but to man.
The difference is in my agenda: I can either try to “gain the whole world” for myself (v. 26), or I can “deny [myself] and take up [my] cross” to follow Jesus (v. 24).
Following God’s agenda = a solid foundation.
Following my agenda = a stumbling block to the work of Christ.
It’s my choice. And your choice too.
The King James Version uses the phrase idle words, which is a rather apt description. The root Greek word is the picture of a worker, but the prefix “a” with it means that the worker is either lazy or unemployed. Not only that but he couldn’t care less (“careless”) about his unemployed, unproductive state.
It’s lazy to use whatever word comes to mind, especially if it’s not the right word.
It takes hard work to say the right word at the right time.
It requires great care to leave the wrong word unspoken.
Just prior to the above quote from Jesus, His critics had just thrown out the line, “He casts out demons through the power of the devil.” They didn’t think about what they were saying, so Jesus said, “If you had thought that through before you said it, you would have realized that it makes no sense. That was an idle, unproductive, lazy thing to say.” In the meantime, who knows how many people heard that throw-away line and then turned away from Jesus.
Words have consequences. Idle, careless words may have eternal consequences. I’ll have to stand before God to explain my careless words some day.
And so will you.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Probers 18:21)
In tobyMac’s song, the lyrics echo God’s Word—
Though it’s crazy, amazing
We can turn our hearts with the words we say
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die…
Well it crazy to imagine
Words from our lips as the arms of compassion
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die
Check this out…
And if you’d like to hear Toby’s inspiration for this song, check on this clip…
The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let them spring forth from love
Born out of compassion for all beings.
As the shadow follows the body, as we think,
So we become. —Juan Mascaro
“When our Lord looked at us, He saw not only what we were — He was faithful in seeing what we could become! He took away the curse of being and gave us the glorious blessing of becoming.” — A.W. Tozer
The word blessing in the Greek is a compound word made up of good + words. Just as Jesus blessed us — said the good word that He prepared us for something more than a life enslaved to sin — shouldn’t we too say good words to others about what they could become?
There is ZERO excuse for anyone who calls themselves a Christian to ever say anything but good words to others. If God only says good words to you and about you, how much more so should Christians be speaking good words to and about others!
Jesus took away the curse of being trapped as we were, and gave us the blessing of becoming who He truly intends for us to be. Let’s do the same thing for other people.
Make a covenant: I will only use my words to bless others; that is, I will only say good words to them and about them. I will speak only those words that tell them about the masterpiece that they are.
Can you at least remember the gist of your major conversations?
Here’s what Jesus said —
But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak. (Matthew 12:36)
The dictionary defines idle as “something of no real worth, importance, or significance.” And the Greek dictionary says idle in this verse means “free from labor; barren.”
So I’m taking a little time to reflect:
If I can’t say “Yes,” it’s time to change my vocabulary… or maybe I just need to speak fewer words.
What do you think about idle words?