Matthew 12:36 “Moreover, I tell you this: on the Day of Judgment people will have to give account for every careless word they have spoken…”
Jesus had healed a man of demon possession that had left him deaf and dumb. The Pharisees were in the area and witnessed this event and spoke up. They accused Jesus of casting out demons in the name of Satan, but Jesus rebuked them by saying that a divided house cannot stand. He continued by saying that if Satan casts out his own demons, then how does he stay in operation (my paraphrase)? Finally, Jesus addressed the careless words spoken by the Pharisees by stating that people will be judged on their “idle” or careless and thoughtless words before God.
Ever since my childhood, I have heard numerous ministers stand up behind a pulpit and scare people into panic by saying that all people will be judged for every little word they say. This idea is totally contrary to the Word of God. The very verse listed above notes that people will be judged for “every careless word they have spoken.” So, does that mean that every word is judged? No, if they are kind words, generous words, loving words, caring words, or thoughtful words, of course, they are not being judged in the sense of a negative verdict.
Second question arising from this verse. Will every person be judged for every thoughtless word they utter? Well, that one is a bit tougher to answer, but the Word tells us that at the point of conversion, we are forgiven of all sins. This idea means that we are forgiven of the judgment of every careless word we have spoken prior to conversion and any after we are saved that we ask God to forgive us. The Bible states that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind not just some.
Now I am not now or at any time condoning thoughtless and careless speech nor am I now or in the future saying that the grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness of God gives us a license to sin and say whatever we want. The Bible is just as clear as to how and what we say. Paul told us to let no corrupt communication proceed from our mouths and to ensure that our speech is seasoned with salt.
Why would he make such a statement, referring to seasoning our speech? Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s easier to catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” Well, offensive, careless speech turns people off and away from God when it comes out of the mouth of a “Christian,” who supposedly represents Jesus to this lost, dying world. Our thoughts, words, and actions have to model the life of Christ to the world if they are ever to be persuaded to come to Christ and be his children.
Furthermore, as Christians, our sins have been judged already and expunged from our criminal record of sin through and by the blood of Jesus on the cross that we accept as a love gift from God through his grace by faith. Now, we will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, but that judgment is for him to determine what our eternal reward will be in heaven and again back on earth during and after the millennial reign. It is not the same judgment that the unsaved will face before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. That day will reveal the entire lifespan of a person to determine if their righteousness weighs out in the balances to earn them entry into heaven, but we know already that no works can save a person. SALVATION COMES ONLY BY ACCEPTANCE OF GOD’S LOVE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD! NO ONE CAN COME TO GOD EXCEPT THROUGH JESUS, WHO IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE!!
However, we still must take care to watch what we say. We can either build people up through edification or tear them down through denigration – there is power of life and death in the tongue! God help us all to have kind, loving words for everyone. (There are times when a stern rebuke is needed, but it must be done with the right motive and in a godly manner, as Jesus did when he cleansed the temple of merchants.)
Father, I have not always been a person of kind words. I preach to myself today. There are times that I let that unruly member get away from me and say things that I later come to regret and have to seek forgiveness for. Oh that I were able to cut out my tongue to spare myself much trouble, but then I would not be able to declare the good works of the Lord to others that they may come to know You. If I were able to bridle that monster between my teeth, I would be a perfect man, However, since I am unable to quench this fire, I ask for your grace and empowerment through your Spirit to become better able to wield my tongue and use it for blessing people not hindering them. Other people are watching me, as well as all Christians, to see if my words match up to what I am preaching. If not, they have done great harm to the cause of Christ in the lives of those I encounter. Father, help me be a man with loving things to say to all people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.