Overcoming how we feel in the “heat of the moment” is important for followers of Jesus. Somehow, we must learn to control our mouths…
I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” Psalm 39:1
An interesting phenomenon happens when I open my mouth to speak. I am reminded by the Spirit that I will be held accountable for every word I speak, whether good or bad. This concept comes from the verse in Matthew 12:36,
36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.
To be clear, how I use the verse and its original intent are not the same. Nor is the “day of judgment” referring to Christ’s return or us standing before Him in heaven. To know its true intent, we must look back at verse 31-32,
31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
The key word in verse 36 is “empty,” which refers to those who speak against the Holy Spirit. Jesus was referring to His day of judgment when the rulers crucified Him. He reveals their hidden intent in verses 34-35,
34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 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.
As for the words we speak, Jesus said in verse 37, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Paul tells us how to be acquitted by our words,
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10
It is this truth to which Jesus was referring in verses 31 and 32. As for the time of judgment, we see that time in the following verses,
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here [the Gospel is greater than Jonah’s message to which the Ninevites listened and repented]. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here [the Gospel is greater than Solomon’s wisdom].
Since that judgment has come and gone, and the Holy Spirit now lives in each of us who has invited Him in, we receive the judgment of our words as we say them–sometimes, even before we say them! The conviction of the Spirit is immediate in most cases. I am learning to hear His voice BEFORE I say the wrong thing, and to consider how to say something before blurting out something that has not been run through the filters of the Spirit based upon Ephesians 4:29:
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
- Is what I am about to say unwholesome in any way?
- Is it helpful to the person or situation?
- Does it build up according to their needs?
- Does it benefit those who listen?
The one thing we don’t want to do is “grieve the Holy Spirit by whom we are sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Let’s bring joy to our Savior’s heart by being godly in how we use our words.
Abba, I still mess up, but I’m learning! I know that in order to control my mouth, I must control my mind. I have the mind of Christ in me; help me to access it! Thank You, Holy Spirit, for never giving up on me. Amen.