Vol. 8, No. 3
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
~ Page 16 ~
When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees regarding the words that came from their mouths, he said, "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:34-37).
What are the idle words that we speak? These are careless words, ineffective words, worthless words, better left unsaid words, words said behind a person's back but not to his face! Gossip is also defined as idle talk or rumor especially about the private affairs of others. It is all the "they said," "she said," "he said," "somebody said," "nobody said," "everybody said" and "anybody said" words that we use daily!
Paul admonishes us about all such talk when he said, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:6). He told the church in Ephesus, "Let no corrupt communication proceed from your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29). The wise man Solomon said, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you" (Proverbs 4:23-24).
What did Jesus mean when he said our words justify or condemn? He gives a perfect explanation of words justifying and words condemning in his parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. Verses 9-10 say, "Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others; two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector." Verses 11-13 tell us the words that each one of these men spoke.
The Pharisee prayed with himself and thanked God that he was not like other men. He said he was not an extortioner, unjust, an adulterer, or even as the tax collector. He said he fasted twice a week and gave tithes of all that he possessed.
The tax collector, standing afar off would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
Then Jesus said in verse 14, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
What was it that justified the tax collector before God? The words that came out of his mouth acknowledging he was a sinner and he needed God's mercy! What was it that condemned the Pharisee before God? The words that came out of his mouth boasting of his self-righteousness and his condemning judgmental attitude toward the tax collector!