Sunday, January 25, 2009

Watch your words

I recently ran across these things spoken by Jesus:
33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:34-37)
I’ve always been a little confused by these verses because I’d read that bit “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” and I'd think, But even the best people can say bad things and even the worst people can say good things! I was confused, because it didn’t seem to reflect reality.

But recently I had some experiences that prepared me to understand this better.

I took a poetry class this semester and one of the assignments was very strange—we were supposed to write a love poem with rough ugly language or write a poem about something we hated using smooth beautiful love language. As I started thinking about how I was going to do this assignment, I wondered what I loved that could write about. My husband? I thought about what I could say about him that could convey love in ugly language, and I realized that it just wasn’t in me to use that kind of tone for someone or something I loved. And I thought about what I disliked, and I realized it also wasn’t in me to use happy and beautiful words for what I considered ugly.

“[H]ow can ye, being evil, speak good things?” Or how can we being good, speak evil things?

Now, something else that I realized was from looking back on a moment when I was very angry. At that particular angry moment, I really couldn’t think about anything else but how angry I was at what had happened and at the person who had done it. And in the little that I said, my anger was still obvious, even though I tried to hide it.

This showed me that whatever came out of my mouth was going to be reflecting whatever was in my mind, and since I can only think about one thing at a time at any particular moment, what I say is truly an exact reflection of who I am at that moment.

So of course, in the final judgment, if the Lord looks at a record of the words I have said, it will indicate a range of my states of being—good or evil—during my life, and it is imperative that I repent of any evil speaking immediately. I want the record of my words to be indicative of greater and greater goodness as time goes on.