They Will Judge Us
Friday - February 12th
Devotionals from the Book of James
Scripture to Read Today: James 3:1-12
I tell you that everyone will have to give
account on the day of judgment for every
empty word they have spoken.
In Matthew 12:36 Jesus said, "I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken." The Greek phrase for "empty word" is rema argos, meaning "careless, thoughtless, inactive, or unprofitable words." In the broader context of Matthew 12:36, Jesus addresses the Pharisees. They were religious leaders who said many things for a public show of spirituality and spiritual superiority. They used their public communication to manipulate others.
Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees. Their hearts were full of selfishness, greed, and lust. The religious leaders' words condemned them because they revealed their hearts were evil - even if their words sounded good.
Jesus contrasts the "good things" within a righteous person with the "evil things" in a wicked person's heart. He teaches that what is in our hearts will ultimately be revealed. He admonishes us to make the best use of our words because words reveal what is concealed in our hearts: "The mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Matthew 12:34).
In Matthew 12:37, Jesus says that words will be used to gauge a person's spiritual condition in the judgment: "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned." The Pharisees to whom Jesus spoke had just accused Him of being controlled by Satan (Matthew 12:24). Jesus calls them a "brood of vipers" and asks them, "How can you who are evil say anything good?" (Matthew 12:34). Just as vipers (or poisonous snakes) have a mouthful of poison, so the Pharisees had mouths full of evil words about Christ.
Jesus was clear that we must give account for more than our evil words. He said every "careless" or "idle" word could be used as a judgment against the one speaking them. Even the slightest sin, a minor deviation from God's perfection, will condemn a person in God's eyes. The Pharisees' sin was great—they had blasphemed the Lord of glory with their accusations that the Devil controlled Jesus. But even seemingly insignificant words are considered sinful if they do not bring glory to God.
This talk of being judged by their words because they revealed the religious leaders' true hearts disturbed the Pharisees. According to Matthew 12:38, they seem to be so uncomfortable with this topic that they quickly changed the subject without even responding to what Jesus said about them.
Maybe reading what Jesus had to say about each of us being judged by our words made you uncomfortable. It might just be the Holy Spirit convicting you of the evil or manipulative words you use. Let God show you how words that you use don't bring Him glory. Ask Him to forgive you and to transform how you speak to others as He changes your heart!
Our words reveal the content of our hearts. We should choose them carefully. They will judge us!