But I tell you that men will give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
bad speech of the Pharisees. It was the natural expression of bad minds, minds full of prejudice and malice. How could they, "being evil, speak good things"? But a great principle is involved in our Lord's appeal.
I. WORDS MAY BE MERE WORDS. Our Lord calls them "idle words." Much that we say we have not really thought. We often speak first and think last. And such idle words, though they do not express our real selves, often make sad mischief. Words glibly pass our tongues, and we forget them the moment after they are uttered, but they are as scorpion-stings to those who hear; they light up fires like the fires of hell. Therefore Christ warns so severely against words that have no thought and no heart behind them, and yet do their fatal work, saying, "For every idle word that man shall speak, he shall give account in the day of judgment." The first law of good speech is - think before you speak.
II. WORDS MAY UTTER A BAD HEART. The skill of life is keeping bad thoughts from gaining utterance. At the most, they only injure one person if they are kept from utterance. There is no knowing how many they may injure if they get expressed. These Pharisees had bad enough thoughts concerning Christ. If they had kept them to themselves, they would only have ruined themselves. Speaking their thought out, they started evil in other minds; words were agencies for communicating thought to thought; so the mischief ran, other souls were blocked against Christ, and his redeeming work was hindered in men.
III. WORDS MAY UTTER A GOOD HEART. Think pure things, and you need not restrain utterance; you will find pure words. Think kind things, trustful things, God-honouring things, and then, out of the abundance of the heart, the lips may freely speak. What you say will not be "idle things" with nothing behind them; nor will they be evil things with malice behind them. Let God make the soul-fountains of thought and heart fresh and sweet by his Holy Spirit's regenerating and sanctifying, and there need be no fear - our speech will be good speech, "seasoned with salt." - R.T.
That every idle word.
I. He shows its UNREASONABLENESS. It is against experience that any power, good or bad, consciously seeks its own destruction. The powers of evil and of good are distinct, and each power is ready to defend itself.
II. He condemns THE SPIRIT IN WHICH IT WAS MADE, and brings out the serious nature of the sin it involved. Why did Christ warn them against this dangerous sin? Not because of any act unmistakably wicked and cruel, but because they called evil good, and good evil, confounding the two, and this from dislike to the truth when it reflected on themselves. There lay the danger; and there it lies still. The essence of sin is being out of sympathy with goodness.
(A. Watson, D. D.)
(A. Watson, D. D.)
1. Tattling. Tattling dims the charity of the charitable mind as a spider dims the light of a window, spinning his web over it.
3. "Slang" conversation. Slang is to language what profanity is to reverence.
(H. W. Beecher.)A child that is in trouble in the nurse's arms is sung to; some little song, the whole of which does not give a single solitary particle of meaning; but the movement of it, and the various associations that are connected with it, charm the child away from tears, and make him happier.
(H. W. Beecher.)I think no musical instrument in the world is like the utterance of speech in one whose voice is well trained, whose mind is rich with emotion, and who is accustomed to describe in graceful and appropriate language one's own experience in life. The conversation that flows in the quietude of a family, like the tinkling of a brook under the shadow of green trees; the conversation that flows like a river whose banks are efflorescent, and which holds its way deep and tranquil — such conversation may become a habit, not only in the sense of not being hurtful but in the sense of having a beauty which is pleasurable.
(H. W. Beecher.)
I. IDLE WORDS. —
1. By idle words we may understand such words as proceed from vanity or deceit, which comprehend the pretences and plausible speeches of the cunning, and the empty boastings of the vain-glorious man.
2. Idle words may comprehend the reports of envy and malice, by which our neighbour suffers in credit or reputation.
3. Idle words may imply such as are the product of a loose and idle mind, such as represent the impure conceptions of a mind polluted with lust.
4. By idle words we may understand useless and insignificant words which are spent to no great end or purpose, either good or bad.
II. THE SCOPE OF OUR SAVIOUR'S ARGUMENT in this place.
1. He descends from the greater to the less evils of speech; from blasphemy to the other evils which are generated in the heart, and from thence derived to the tongue — "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders," etc. Not only these but idle words will be punished. Jesting does not become the gospel.
III. THE END AND DESIGN OF SPEECH, which is the gift of God to mankind. If we use our speech to serve any purpose contrary to the end designed by God, we abuse His gift and must answer for it.
1. Speech was given for the communication of our thoughts to each other, yet all our thoughts are not to be brought into conversation.
2. The wants and necessities of nature call for our help, and as these subjects must employ great part of our thoughts, so likewise of our speech, for we cannot live without mutual aid.
3. Further, God has made us to delight in each other's company, hence it is lawful to employ speech for improving mutual love and friendship. Men may talk of many subjects which have no present instruction, Yet they may serve this end.
4. Consider the different degrees of sense and understanding that men are endowed with. The tongue cannot speak better than the understanding can conceive. Must not despise the conversation of weaker men.
(T. Sherlock, D. D.)
1. We ought to consider the faculty of speech, how eminent its power, before we marvel at the criminality attached to its abuse. Every one condemns the prostitution of reason, because it is a high attribute; but "what is language but reason walking abroad? Can it be a light thing to use the tongue against God, and dishonouring Him through that whence He looked for His chief glory?
2. If these remarks prove the " idle word" so criminal that of itself it might justly procure the condemnation of the speaker, they will also prove that our conversation may evidence whether or no we have justifying faith. St. James makes the power of the tongue equivalent to power over the whole man. He who is master of his chief faculty is little likely to be the slave of an inferior. It is true that no sin is more easily committed than one of the tongue; hence the non-commission of it is a high attainment. It is just because the thing may be so easily done, that the not doing it marks singular power and vigilance. But this is evidence from their being no idle words; there may be positive as well as negative witness, "the witness of what is uttered as well as of what is repressed. If it be true that " out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," we may confidently reckon that where there is genuine piety it will give tone to the conversation. "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Hence there is a high duty to be performed by the tongue. Therefore, whilst we admit that faith is the instrument of justification, we can understand why words, which are the confession of Christ before men, should be given as securing salvation. They are but faith embodied. It was to a particular description of idle words that our Lord had respect — scoffing words. What helps our laughter will soon lose our reverence.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
I. At the head of the list we must put PROFANE SWEARING.
II. Another way in which we expose ourselves to God's displeasure is by FOOLISH WALKING (Ephesians 5:4).
III. Another example of the improper use of the gift of speech is an indulgence in the PETULANT AND COMPLAINING LANGUAGE which so often destroys the harmony of private life.
IV. A fourth illustration of our text is found in the case of MISREPRESENTATION AND SLANDERS.
V. ANGRY WORDS may endanger our salvation.
(J. H. Norton.)
(J. H. Norton.)
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
(J. H. Norton.)
(A. Watson, D. D.)
(O. Feltham.)of grace, but it should be with grace.
(Matthew Henry.)I. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FAITH AND WORKS WHICH CAUSES THE JUSTIFICATION DERIVED FROM THE FORMER, OFTEN TO BE SPOKEN OF AS DERIVED FROM THE LATTER. Turn away the mean and despicable notion of a faith, which doth not cordially embrace Christ, and concentrate all the affections of the soul in Him as in one centre, like as a thousand rivers pour forth their mighty waters into the bosom of the ocean, or as the scattered rays of the midday sun, gathered by the optic glass, meet in one bright focus. Whenever there is true faith in Christ, works of righteousness and .peace are the inevitable consequences of her dominion. Whenever justification is in Scripture ascribed to works, it is not for their own sake, but for the sake of that faith whence they spring.
II. How THE PARTICULAR FRUIT TO WHICH OUR TEXT ALLUDES IS A JUST CRITERION OF OUR FAITH, AND A FITTING STANDARD FOR THE AWARDS OF FINAL TRIUMPH. "For by thy words," etc. Such is the law, and its justice will be evinced by our referring to the fruit of the lip as an indication of the faith of the heart. God may be denied by words and thoughts, hence both may fairly decide the great assize. From the tenor of a man's conversation we may estimate his conversion. Various methods by which this law might be vindicated — words of prayer and praise. Absence of these leads to condemnation. Faith speaks through these — "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man."
(H. Melvill, M. A.)
(H. Melvill, M. A.)I. For good or ill, the life of every one of us is an incessant influence.
II. Deduce from this fact some important lessons.
1. Our unconscious influence is spontaneous, and has no premeditation or calculation about it.
2. Our unconscious influence is a perpetual emanation from ourselves.
3. This unconscious influence is necessarily simple.
4. Our unconscious influence is the more powerful because it excites no suspicion.
III. In what sense and on what grounds are we accountable for this kind of influence?
1. It is conditioned by our character.
2. It is by this we act most on those who are nearest to us.
3. Our indirect influence is our truest. It best represents us.
4. By these unconscious exhibitions of character the world is constantly judging us. Learn
(1) (2) (Clement Bailhache.) II. How can men be justified by their words, if they are good; and condemned by them, if evil? III. The reasonableness of justifying or condemning men by their words. One reason is, that a great deal is in the power of the tongue. Another is, that as men's words are so are their hearts. IV. Application: 1. No one may hence infer that he may be saved by a fair profession of religion without good works. 2. Here is a mark which may be of good use for determining our sincerity or insincerity. 3. The doctrine of the text teaches us to be careful of our words. 4. We may hence discern that the Lord Jesus was a most excellent person — "Never man spake like Him." (N. Lardner.) (Clement Bailhache.)
(2) (Clement Bailhache.) II. How can men be justified by their words, if they are good; and condemned by them, if evil? III. The reasonableness of justifying or condemning men by their words. One reason is, that a great deal is in the power of the tongue. Another is, that as men's words are so are their hearts. IV. Application: 1. No one may hence infer that he may be saved by a fair profession of religion without good works. 2. Here is a mark which may be of good use for determining our sincerity or insincerity. 3. The doctrine of the text teaches us to be careful of our words. 4. We may hence discern that the Lord Jesus was a most excellent person — "Never man spake like Him." (N. Lardner.) (Clement Bailhache.)
(Clement Bailhache.)I. What does our Lord call an idle word? Some understand unprofitable words; others false, reproachful, hurtful words; and this latter meaning may be preferred.
II. How can men be justified by their words, if they are good; and condemned by them, if evil?
III. The reasonableness of justifying or condemning men by their words. One reason is, that a great deal is in the power of the tongue. Another is, that as men's words are so are their hearts.
1. No one may hence infer that he may be saved by a fair profession of religion without good works.
2. Here is a mark which may be of good use for determining our sincerity or insincerity.
3. The doctrine of the text teaches us to be careful of our words.
4. We may hence discern that the Lord Jesus was a most excellent person — "Never man spake like Him."