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What are Words Worth? Matthew 12:33-37


What are Words Worth?

 Text Matthew 12:33-37

Why are words so important?  The apostle James devotes a whole section of his letter to our speech in James 3:1-10. 


The Pharisees have used dreadful, vile words against Jesus.  He has healed a man, in in doing so he has demonstrated that he has defeated the devil, but the Pharisees, who hate him, for he has challenged their religious superiority, and exposed their hypocrisy; they become enraged, and attribute his good works to the devil.  It is a lying, vile, blasphemous slur.  (V24)   Jesus devastates their words with logic, he challenges them to repent, while there is still time, and now he reminds them of the importance of words on the day of judgement.  (V37)  Let’s see…

1 Our WORDS are an INSIGHT to our Hearts.  33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.

The words we speak out of our mouths begin in the HEART.   So that begs the question, ‘What do we mean by heart?’  

  • The illustration. Jesus continues his message to the Pharisees by use of a picture that everyone will understand.  It’s a tree, a fruit tree to be exact, and it has bad fruit because the tree it rotten.  If the tree had been healthy it would have brought forth good fruit.   James makes the same point, in James 3:11. Jesus is illustrating to them how the words of our mouths are representative of the condition of our internal man, our heart.   Mark 3:5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts. See how the heart is described in this passage:-
    • The Root of our Character. v33  Verse 33 implies this.  What we are outwardly, what we appear like to others, what we say, – all of these are a reflection of what we are internally.  
    • The Fountain of Our Words. v34 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  Matthew Henry ‘The heart is the fountain, the words are the stream.’  Because our hearts are full of sin, what bubbles up from it is the language of sin.
    • The Treasury of all Wickedness. v35. 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.  Jeremiah, 17:9 T  Thankfully our hearts can be cleansed and that will have a profound effect on how we speak.  Ezekiel 36:25.  At regeneration the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us, and our wicked sins cause us great distress, sins of word as well as deed, and so we repent of all our sins, and we seek to live lives that will please the God who redeemed us.   What’s the treasure of MY heart, of YOURS?  Is it good treasure, because the Holy Spirit dwells with, or is it evil, spewing out evil language?  Let us examine our hearts!
  • The honest appraisal.  34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things?  Jesus speaks the truth about the Pharisees.  He offends them by his words.  That’s the point, really  – salt stings – for to pander to their sin would be pointless, – they need to be told.  It’s not the first time either.  John the Baptist addressed them with similar candour. in Matthew 3:7 -8 They are wicked people, and that’s why their words are full of wickedness.   For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  

Now because our speech comes from our heart, our words are an accurate measure of what’s in there, what spiritual condition the heart is in. 


2 Our Words are ACCOUNTED FOR before God.

We say a lot of words in our lifetime so it is inevitable that we get some wrong!   James 3:2   None of us are perfect!   I wonder how many words we say in a lifetime, and I wonder how many we get wrong?  Do you know that God hears every word you say, and he will one day replay them, and you will answer for every one of them.  Psalm 139:4  

  • Which words?  36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak,   Jesus specifically speaks here about ‘IDLE WORDS.’  Words spoken when we drop our guard.  They are…
    • Wasted Words!  Foolish talk, old silly nonsense that makes up much of our speech.  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul warns us about this. Ephesians 5:3-4 That’s an example of ‘idle words.’
    • Worthless Words!  Words that are meaningless.  Making promises that we don.t or can’t keep.  Telling complete lies.  Just talking for the sake of talking.  Another example of ‘idle words.’  But the most applicable kind of idle words is…
    • ‘Within-these-four-walls’ Words!  The words that we speak when only our mates can hear us.   The words that we speak at home. When our doors shut and we are alone with our family – what words come from our lips?  Angry words?  Harsh words? Critical words? Unremitting negativity?   The words that we listen to, the words we express in private.  All of these are idle words.  
    • Worldly Words. Imagine how incongruous it would be – to sit in church on Sunday, singing hymns, saying the Lord’s Prayer, reading the sacred pages of the Bible, the beautiful stories of Jesus, then leaving the building and using base and bad language.  Idle words indeed.  Now, here’s the point…  
  • All these words will be exposed. they will give account of it in the day of judgment. On the Day of Judgement every idle word will be accounted for!  That means every wasted word, and every worthless word – and worst of all, all those words that we say within these four walls.  We should keep that in mind before we speak!   Let’s think about that, and allow it to sink in.  What about my words?  
  • The enduring harm of our words. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Now, can we be justified before God, just because we change our speech, because we watch our language?  Of course not, thats not what Jesus means here at all.  When we stand before an earthly judge, we testify, – giving a verbal account of what we have done.  So, before God – we will be required to give answer for our sins.   

So, Jesus warns us about our words.  He refers to the terrible words that the religious leaders have said about him, and warns them that their words are an accurate indication of the condition of their spiritual being, their heart, and that when the stand before God, to give an account of how they have lived, every single word, even the words that we say when we think no-one else is listening, will be revealed and accounted for.  Like every other sin, wicked harmful words can be forgiven.  Even blasphemous words.  

© BobMcEvoy February 2019

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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