Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Thought for Thursday 15 October 2015

“Either make a tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for a tree is known by its fruit.  Brood of vipers!  How can you , being evil, speak good things?  For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  A good person out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things, and an evil person out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.  But I say to you that for every idle word you may speak, you 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.”  Matthew 12:33-37 NKJV

A Catholic writer, speaking of a Christian “going on to perfection” (sanctification), observed: “You are not called to do; you are called to be.” 

A rabbi was teaching his class about the power of words when he said to his class, "Everything that has been created by God's word has a lesson to teach us." Thinking the rabbi was using hyperbole, a member of his class called out:  "And what can we learn from the telegraph?"  Quickly the rabbi responded, "That for every word you pay."  Another asked, "And what can we learn from the telephone?"  Thinking for a moment, the rabbi said, "That what we say here is heard there."

We must not underestimate the value and the power of the words we speak.  Especially in terms of vows we make to The Lord, the Teacher in Ecclesiastes maintains, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for The Lord has no pleasure in fools.  Pay what you have vowed.  Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”  Then he also writes: “Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error.  Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hand?  For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity.  But fear God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-8).

So when we consider the vows we make when we join the Church or become baptized into the Holy Covenant, or in anger speak words hastily and lash out at someone, the power of those words are immeasurable.  The Lord will not let us off the hook, for words spoken in anger do far more damage to the soul than a broken nose does to the body.  We can always apologize, of course (and we must), but the words cannot be taken back.  The nose will heal but the soul, not so quickly because of the incomprehensible power of our words.

And why is that?  Because from “the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”.  The victims of our verbal assault know where those words come from even if they are not familiar with Jesus’ own words.  Much in the same way we say we are Christians, but our deeds and our evil words (such as slander and idle gossip) actually define us.  Now we might (and many do!) try to convince ourselves that “Only Jesus knows what’s really in my heart”, but Jesus clearly does not agree with that sentiment!  Ultimately what we say reveals what we actually are.  We will, as the rabbi pointed out, “pay for our words”.  In terms of slander and idle gossip, “What you say here will be heard there” (isn’t it funny how quickly we will share gossip but not Gospel??).

This is why prayer, praise, fasting, contemplating Scripture, and worship are so important to the devoted disciples.  What we are called to be is revealed not only in what we choose to say but also in what we do, for “the abundance of the heart” will be revealed whether we like it or not.

We must guard our hearts!  There is real power in our words, whether these words are spoken hastily, arrogantly, or carefully.  Our words will always reveal what we have chosen to be, and our Lord teaches that we will be justified or condemned by those words.

So “speak softly” and carry a “big heart”!



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