WHAT WE SAY IS WHO WE ARE
What we say is who we are.
“For by your words, you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”
Words are easily said but difficult to retract. We often say things we regret, and the damage that words have upon relationships is often difficult to mend. As a child, we learned the limerick, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt me.” However, as we grow older, we soon learn that broken bones can more easily heal than the damage that words can have.
After confronting the Pharisees, Jesus points to the importance of words. Words are more than just verbal communication; they are the barometer of the soul. They are the window by which our inner attitudes and thoughts are revealed. Actions require thought, but words are often uttered without consideration of their consequences or what they reveal about us.
To illustrate his point, Jesus uses the analogy of a tree. The nature and health of a tree is revealed by its fruits. An apple tree does not grow cherries, nor does an olive tree grow plums. Furthermore, a tree affected by insects and disease will not produce a bountiful harvest with good fruit. Instead, it will only have small and tarnished fruit. Because our words are often stated without thought, they become the window of our soul. Thus, the true character of the Pharisees and their lack of genuine faith was revealed by the words they said about Christ. In their verbal opposition to Christ, they demonstrated their evil intent. Instead of being the pious, God-fearing upholders of the law they pretended to be, they revealed that they were charlatans and hypocrites, for when they were confronted with the fulfillment of prophecies coming of the Messiah, they rejected him.
In verse 35, Christ points out that our character is revealed by what we say and do. No matter how we attempt to conceal the self-centered and sinful attitudes, it will eventually reveal itself in our actions and especially in our words. What we believe will ultimately be revealed in what we say. We reveal our pride when we verbally put others down. We reveal our self-righteousness when we criticize the sins and faults of others. We reveal our envy when we criticize what others buy. We reveal our anger when we speak harshly towards others. We reveal our unbelief when we verbally reject biblical truth. While we may not give thought to what we say, God does. The word “careless” refers to words marked by a lack of attention, consideration, or forethought. Jesus thus points out that our words reveal our thoughts and thus become the basis for interpreting our character. This was especially true of the religious leaders who revealed their unbelief in Christ through words and verbal accusations.
One of the hardest things to do is to evaluate our heart. God warns, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” So, how do we evaluate our hearts and look at the words we say to and about others? In these words, we discover the genuine motives that govern our attitudes and actions. By examining our words, we may find that our heart, the seat of our character, values, and nature, is sick and needs healing. That healing comes by honestly confessing our sins before God and asking him to heal our souls.