Matthew 12:33-37

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

As a child, I remember going to the doctor on the odd occasions when I fell ill. The doctor would ask me what was wrong with me, but before I could give him any answer, he'd tell me to stick my tongue out! It didn't take long for me to realize he didn't really care what I said to him; all he was interested in was my tongue, which told him more about my physical health than anything I might have said. Interestingly, our tongues also speak a lot about the state of our spiritual health, and Scripture says a lot about this. Today we heard Jesus saying that we will have to give account for every word we have spoken. He concluded by saying: "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:37).

We will be judged by our words. So, how do you think we will fare? Let's look at a FEW sins of the tongue. I will mostly quote Scripture without commentary. You can draw your own inferences.

One: talking too much. Is that a sin? As I said, I will tell you what Scripture says. Solomon said: "As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words" (Ecclesiastes 5:3). And this is what Jesus said. He was, of course, someone greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42). "When you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words" (Matthew 6:7). It is also wisdom to listen more than talk. God gave us two ears but only one mouth for a reason.

Two: gossip and slander. Paul said, "Not thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:10). You might find it interesting to note that the word "devil" in from the Greek word "diabolos" which means "slanderer." Whenever we engage in slander, we become devilish—quite literally. All slander has its roots in gossip, which is talk about personal or sensational facts about others. This is diabolical at all times, seeing as how slander is character assassination, worse than murder, because here the victim is still physically alive and having to deal with a mutilated reputation.

Three: Lies. The psalmist says: "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies" (Psalm 34:13). This is another sin of the tongue that comes straight from the devil, whom Scripture refers to as "a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). When we lie, we immediately adopt Satan for a dad and condemn ourselves in the eyes of God, who hates liars and promises them a bath in "a fiery lake of burning sulphur" (Revelation 21:8). No kidding! Want more? Well, Scripture warns about hastiness in speech (Ecclesiastes 5:2), flattery and boastfulness (Psalm 12:2-3), obscenity and coarse joking (Ephesians 5:4), and foolish and stupid arguments (2 Timothy 2:23-24).

I figure that's enough, or you might accuse me of talking too much too! But seriously, let us tame those tongues, guys. Because as James warns: "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26)

May the Spirit be with you.

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