The Tongue

In Matthew 12 we see three different instances where the Pharisees tried to find fault in Jesus and in his disciples. The last instance they accused him of casting out demons by the authority and power of Beelzebub. In other words, they were saying, “Satan is behind the words and power of Jesus.” Jesus then begins (v25f) to prove why it is that he cannot be casting out demons by the power of a demon. Starting in verse 33 we read, “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.” We should not expect good things to come from someone who does not practice good. For example, we would not want to encourage a habitual traffic offender to become a driving instructor. A tree is known by its fruit.

Jesus continues on, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” The evil speech of the Pharisees poisoned the minds of souls seeking after Jesus. They spoke to destroy Jesus, and to harm those who followed him. This was the purpose in their heart, and they spoke from the abundance of hatred and destruction in their heart.

There is a lesson for us in the example left by the Pharisees. Jesus says in v35-37, “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. But I say to you that for every idle word man may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

God is going to judge us on what proceeds from our mouth, because the words that proceed from our mouth are a window into our heart. If we have a pure heart, our words will be pure. If we have a tainted heart, our words will be tainted. Therefore, if we desire to be pleasing to God, we must be careful about what our heart treasures.

Proverbs 10:20 gives us a great picture to consider, “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little.” When the treasure of our heart is being pleasing to God, what we say will reflect our hearts desire. The verse likens this to choice silver. It is choice, meaning more excellent than just silver. Consider the difference between a coin minted ten years ago and one minted yesterday. One is purer, more excellent, and more pleasing to the eye. This is the way the words of the righteous are. They please God. Unlike the Pharisees, who sought to tear down by foolish arguments, the words of the righteous seek to build up.

Colossians 3:17 makes this statement concerning our words, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” When we speak we ought to be asking ourselves, “Could I say that in the name of Jesus?” In other words, is Jesus pleased with what we have to say. Perhaps we really lash out at the clerk at the grocery store. Is Jesus pleased? Perhaps we use words that our society has determined to be inappropriate speech, or we vainly use God’s name. Is Jesus pleased?

Our words should imitate God. They should be “…like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24) When Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:3) and John (Revelation 10:10) were asked to eat a scroll and a book from God, both described the experience as being sweet honey in their mouth. God’s word is sweet. Colossians 4:6 tells us, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Make sure that when we speak it will be palatable. God desires that our truthful and righteous words promote health. Therefore, our words should be carefully measured to make sure they will build up, not tear down.

What we say reflects the state of our heart. God created us with mouths so that we might speak words to His glory. Let’s use our mouths to edify by speaking the truth with a loving heart, always contentious of the impact our words have on the well being of others. By our words we will be justified and by our words we will be condemned.


Psalms 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

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Joshua Riggins Written by:

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