Idle Words

Researchers say the average American male speaks 6073 words per day, and the average American female speaks 8805 words per day. That’s a lot of words! Can you remember everything you said today?

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:

  • Are all my words worthwhile?
  • Are they important?
  • Are they significant?
  • Did all my words do some good to someone?

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?

Are You A Trustworthy “Enemy”?

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, right? Wrong—words hurt!

At times you may think, “Well, I may have deserved that one.” Perhaps you did or said something inappropriate, and the other person responded out of their anger or frustration or embarrassment. But what about when you’ve done nothing wrong? Those sharp, wounding words seem to come out of the clear blue, from someone you never would have expected to be so hateful—angry, spiteful words deliberately hurled at you like stones.

David was forced to hide in Philistine territory to get away from Israelite King Saul. This was smart on David’s part because the Philistines had been ancient enemies of the Israelites, so Saul would never cross into Philistine territory to look for David. David asked King Achish for refuge in his territory, and Achish gave him the city of Ziklag in which to settle.

There’s a cliché that says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Achish was Saul’s enemy, so David could have assumed that Achish was his friend (the enemy of David’s enemy).

But here’s the important point—David didn’t consider Saul his enemy. Saul may have thought David was his enemy, but David didn’t reciprocate. David didn’t treat Saul as an enemy, but neither did David treat Achish as a friend.

Yet the Bible records an amazing statement: Achish trusted David (1 Samuel 27:12). Neither Saul nor Achish could ever claim that David slandered them, maligned their character, or did them any harm at all.

How could David do this? How could he keep from lashing out at the one who hurled insults at him (Saul) or the one who was his ancient foe (Achish)? David asked God to help him—

Fierce men conspire against me for no offence or sin of mine, O Lord.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Arise to help me; look on my plight!
(Psalm 59:3-4)

I see three great life applications when you are wrongly attacked or slandered:

  1. Don’t treat those who criticize and slander you as an enemy.
  2. Don’t find the enemy of your enemy and call him a friend.
  3. Do acknowledge your hurts and take them to God.

You don’t have to befriend your foes, but neither do you need to lash out at those who are falsely attacking you. Let God arise to help you, and may even your enemies find you trustworthy!

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