“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Reference: Matthew 12:34-37 )
If anyone could be right accused of “useless chatter” that actually springs up from ungodly intent, it is the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other Jewish leaders that Jesus speaks against in the gospels. A very specific group, beloved, and make note it is only the individuals that make up this targeted group that stand unquestionably accused.
This chapter of Matthew is filled with Jesus going about his preaching, teaching, and healing – and being plagued by the muttering and accusations of the Pharisees. Jesus reprimands them and scolds them several times. I don’t think they paid much attention. It is though a long standing traditions to teach and exhort about living a proper and authentic Christian life. The prophets did it, Jesus did it, the disciples did it and the historic Anabaptists did it. Balthasar Hubmaier wrote,
“Brother [and Sister]! It stands written that everyone must give an account on the judgment day for every vain word that they have spoken, Matt. 12:36. Now dear brother, you made a baptismal vow to Christ Jesus our Lord. You committed yourself to him in such way, and publicly pledged it before the church, that you would henceforth desire to direct and rule your life according to his Holy Word (to which Scripture testifies); and that if you should not do so, you would willingly let yourself be admonished according to the command of Christ. Thereupon you received water baptism and were numbered in the membership of the Christian community.
Now you are using much vain language and frivolous speech, whereby good morals
are seriously destroyed, as is not fitting for a Christian man, 1 Cor. 15:33. I therefore remind you of your baptismal vow, my very dearest brother, that you would call to memory what you promised to God, and I beg you for the sake of God and of the salvation of your soul, henceforth to avoid such frivolous talk and to improve your life. Thereby you are doing the will of God.”
As much as Hubmaier’s caution and warning resonates with what I know about Anabaptism/Mennonite faith, Jesus’ words resonate with me more as a writer. It is not just the spoken word that can be “useless chatter”, beloved. It is the written word as well. Will my written words acquit me? I hope so. Will my written words condemn me? It is my fear. I write in sincere hope and fervent pray that I have written wisely and judiciously.
May you beloved continue to chose your words well, and may they stand as unblemished testimony to your character and soul. Selah!