IDLE, CARELESS, OR EVIL WORDS….

Spiritual Blog - Words

Matthew 12:33-37 – “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.  34 ” You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.  35 ” The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.  36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.  37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  NASU

 

I’ve heard so many interpretations of verses 36-37 that I approach this with great caution and careful thought.  I’ve had people tell me that this means that if you are not talking about God all the time you are uttering idle or careless words and will be judged for it.  That would seem quite legalistic and an incredible prison for all of us.  I’m not sure how you would conduct business, develop a social life, find a mate, or train your children in all aspects of life under that interpretation but if that is your view so be it.  I would ask that you restrain yourself in seeking to impose it on the rest of us.

I have studied this troubling and seemingly difficult translation to find what our Lord was truly saying to those in his audience then and now.  I refer you to two notable commentators on Scripture:

Adam Clarke suggested: 

[Every idle word] – Reema (NT:4487) argon (NT:692), a word that does nothing, that neither ministers grace nor instruction to them who hear it.  The word argon (NT:692) corresponds to the Hebrew shaaw (OT:7723), which signifies not only vain or empty but also wicked and injurious, such as a false testimony against a neighbor, compare Deut 5:11 and 20. Add to this, that Symmachus translates piguwl (OT:6292), polluted, Lev 19:7, by the very Greek word in the text. It was to explain this ambiguous meaning of the word, that ten MSS. have changed argon (NT:692), into poneeron (NT:4190), evil. Our Lord must be understood here as condemning all false and injurious words: the scope of the place necessarily requires this meaning.

In looking at verse 37 we realize that – [By thy words thou shalt be justified] That is, the whole tenor of your conversation will be an evidence for or against thee, in the great day.  How many are there who count words for nothing! Yet eternity often depends on them. Lord, put a watch before the door of my lips! is a prayer proper for all men.

Barnes Notes suggested:

[But I say unto you …] Christ closes this address to his malignant and wicked hearers by a solemn declaration that for these things God would bring them into judgment. Therefore, THEY who had spoken so malignantly against him, could not escape.

[Idle word] This literally means a vain, thoughtless, useless word; a word that accomplishes no good. Here it means, evidently, “wicked, injurious, false, malicious, for such” were the words which they had spoken.

[By thy words thou shalt be justified …] That is, “words” are the indication of the true principles of the heart; by “words” the heart shall be known, as the tree is by its fruit. If they are true, proper, chaste, instructive, pious, they will prove that the heart is right. If false, envious, malignant, and impious, they will prove that the heart is wrong, and will, therefore be among the causes of condemnation. It is not meant that words will be the only thing that will condemn man, but that they will be an important part of the things for which he shall be condemned. See James 3:3-12.

Roy suggests:  (That’s me) – I suggest that Jesus is referring to words that are “without value”, words that are “harmful”, and words that are “untrue”.  I would also suggest that He is identifying the condition of the heart in referring to the utterance of words and is telling all who will hear that it is a WHOLESOME, GOD-FEARING LIFE that is to be prized and that will be acceptable to God on that day.  To suggest that simply by constructing our language and conversation in a particular way would be enough to gain entrance into Heaven would be to trample under-foot the Blood of Jesus and slander the Grace of God.  It would make Grace something earned and Salvation something we can become worthy of by our actions or words and we know that is not according to Scripture.  Therefore, this cannot be interpreted in that manner so understanding that it is not just talking a particular dogma that our Lord is focused on but the WHOLE OF OUR LIVES and instructing us to understand that “Words Have Meaning” and are “Powerful.”   I too pray that God will place a guard at my mouth and my heart.

May God be with you as you go through your day.

CONSIDER ANOTHER HE MIGHT BE A WEAKER BROTHER…

Spiritual Blog - Weaker

1 Corinthians 8:9-13 – “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” NKJV

The matter of personal liberty has always been and will always be an issue in the Church and the conscience of a weaker brother or sister.  How far do we press our liberty before we become a stumbling block for a “weaker brother”?  Is there a time to say, “Grow up and realize that different people have different convictions”?  Is exercising our liberty worth causing another to stumble?  How you answer those questions will determine how you relate to those around you.

There was a time in my Christian walk that I felt that everyone should hold the same convictions that I did and if they did not they were “carnal” at best and “backslidden” at worst.  Most of the time I considered that one and the same and was a Pharisee of Pharisees!  It took God rattling my cage in a major way to cause me to rethink my way of thinking and to understand that I am not God’s Fruit Inspector He can handle that job just fine.  Likewise, I had to learn, although in my heart I knew it that most of what I called “convictions” were simply “opinions” and did not have the weight of Scripture.  An opinion is just that and is something that may and should change if new light is brought.  If God “convicts” your heart over an action, belief, or anything you should follow what God says implicitly and explicitly.  Yet you must always remember that what God “convicts” you of He may not convict another.  Many times the roots of that conviction stem from something within you or the geographic region in which you live and the mindset of those around you.  God will bring conviction to your heart for your benefit not so you can attempt to impose it on everyone else that would be what a Pharisee does.

There have been times that I could have done something but knew that there were those around me who would be hindered in their Christian walk if they saw me.  So, in the interest of another, I choose to abstain.  In traveling to other parts of the country and world I have found that there are many differing views on various things that Christians do or do not do and sometimes the dogmatism is so strong that no amount of reason or biblical teaching can break it.  Unless God brings light to the heart, that person or persons will remain as they are.  Attempting to legislate to them a particular mind-set or lifestyle would be futile and brings to mind the old saying:  “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  They may yield to your insistence but their hearts and minds have not truly changed.  You are not God so why try to be?

As you go through your day realize that what you do and say will have an impact on others so choose your words and deeds carefully considering another for your liberty is not worth hindering another in their pursuit of GOD and His GRACE!

May God be with you as you go through your day!

THE LIVING DEAD – – Alive But Dead…

Spiritual Blog - Dad

Romans 8:10-12 – “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh….”  NASU

 

We are the “Living Dead” and I’m not talking about Zombies as Hollywood seems to be obsessed with these days.  When I say the “Living Dead” I am talking about people who have “died to sin” and “risen to life” in Jesus Christ through the Power of the Blood.  It is a beautiful place to be – LIVING DEAD!

Paul informs the Roman believers that IF the Spirit of God, that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us that same Spirit will give us LIFE in our mortal bodies.  We are then DEAD but ALIVE and that is because we are not controlled by the “flesh” but the “spirit.”  As a result, we are no longer under OBLIGATION to Live According to the Flesh.  That leads me to my next question – “Why do we?”  Why do we allow the FLESH to have so much power in our daily lives?  Why do we allow the FLESH to be such a dominant force in our lives?  WHY?  There can only be one of a few possibilities.

  • We are uninformed as to our position and condition in Christ.
  • We are willing participants with the FLESH.
  • We are so underdeveloped spiritually that the devil easily sways and overcomes us.

None of those are conditions that are required.  We are not OBLIGATED to live that way.  When Jesus came, lived a sinless life, died sacrificially on the Cross, rose the third day, and is now ascended to the Right Hand of the Father – the devil was defeated.  That is not a maybe or someday, somehow when we all get to heaven he will be – HE IS DEFEATED NOW!   Jesus said that ALL POWER or AUTHORITY in heaven was given to Him and He gave that to us.  Therefore, we have authority and power over the devil which would mean that the FLESH is to be subject to the Spirit of God not, vice versa. We are under NO OBLIGATION to succumb to the temptations or whims of the flesh.  We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Jesus and We CAN do all things through Christ!  That is our Covenant, Heritage, and Promise from the Lord Himself so why not employ it and enjoy it?

Therefore, as you go through this day go in the strength of the Power of the Spirit of God and walk in Victory!  God bless you richly is my prayer!

 

WANTED – – Truth Tellers…..

Spiritual Blog - Truth

Ephesians 4:25 – “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” NASU

I don’t want to get political or go on an all-out attack on religious hypocrisy but will say that what we need in this present world is men and women of THE TRUTH.  Paul tells the Ephesian Church that they are to “lay aside” FALSEHOOD and “speak the truth.”  He reminds them and us that we are not isolated from each other but as members of both the human race and the family of God we are part of the same fabric and while we sometimes are guilty of lying to ourselves or distorting reality in our minds we do not practice that regularly, at least I hope we do not.

My grandfather and father always told me, “Tell the truth it is easier to remember than a lie.”  They usually told me that when I attempted to pull the wool over on their eyes and they saw through it with amazing clarity and regularity.  Neither would tolerate laziness or dishonesty and were truthful to a fault and even if telling the truth brought them personal or financial difficulty.  They believed and so do I that “honesty” is not just the best policy it is the “only policy.”  If we are truthful then we do not have to worry about being exposed and that in itself brings a certain sense of peace and security to the heart and mind.  We have all known people who it seems would climb a tree to tell a lie when they could have stood on the ground and told the truth.

My children know that I told them, “If you lie to me and I catch you it will be far worse than if you tell me the truth.”  If they remember they can recall sometimes when they told me the truth and escaped punishment and times when they didn’t and the punishment or correction was stepped up a notch.  If we encounter someone who tells us untruths on a regular basis, no matter how hard we try not to label or characterize them as being a liar we still do so, at least in the back of our minds and it affects our relationship or prevents us developing one that is positive.  No one wants to do business with a person that distorts the truth or facts.  No one would want to sit under a preacher who told fabrications.  As a friend of mine had a member of his congregation asked him, “Pastor was that story you told the truth or were you just preaching?”  What a statement and while she may not have meant it as it came across that she would even entertain it is a tragedy.

You do not want anyone to tell you anything but the truth so why practice telling others something that is not truthful?  You would not want your doctor to tell you something that was not true regarding your health because that could cost you your life.  You would not want your banker or financial adviser to misrepresent your finances that might cost you your possessions.  In life (all of it) let’s be PEOPLE OF THE TRUTH!

May God bless you as you go through your day!

SLAVES NO MORE…

Spiritual Blog - Heirs

Galatians 4:1-7 – “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ” Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” NASU

Paul’s way of explaining our relationship with God is powerful.  He brings to mind that a child although a member of the family and ultimately owner of all the family fortunes and worth is little different from a slave because the child is under the authority of his/her parents or those whom the parents have placed over them.  They are not allowed the privilege of operating as an “owner” until it is deemed by the father that they are ready. Owner of all but the authority of a slave is the condition described.

Then he declares to us that we are “sons” (a non-gender term as used here) and because of that truth God has sent the Spirit of God into our hearts crying “Abba! Father!”  As a result, we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters and if we are sons and daughters we are HEIRS OF GOD!  Oh my friends, how often do we as children of the Most High live beneath our privilege?  How frequently do we live as slaves rather than sons and daughters?  It is time that we assess who we are and whose we are.  It is time to reread the Bible and determine what this “New Covenant” that is established upon “Better Promises” is all about and what it affords.  It is time that we reevaluate our relationship with the Lord and that we have authority and power to not only overcome the enemy of our souls but the grace to live the Abundant Life that Jesus promised.  You are not a SLAVE you are a CHILD OF GOD and an HEIR according to His Promise!  We need to remember that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever and what He did He still does and can do!

Let’s move from a slave mentality to a son and daughter mentality.  Let’s move from timidity to boldness in our relationship, heritage, and covenant.  Let’s begin to live as HEIRS and bring real hope to this hopeless world outside of Christ.

God bless and keep you as you go through your day!

STRONG IN GRACE…

Spiritual Blog - Grace

2 Timothy 2:1, 11-13 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” NASU 

How about you, do you want to be “Strong in Grace?”  I believe that I can answer that for you without violating your right to make the decision for yourself and say YES!  Paul identified in verses 11-13 some truths regarding our walk with Christ in this life by saying:

  1. If we have died in Him we will also live in Him.
  2. If we endure we will reign.
  3. If we deny Him, He will deny us.
  4. If we are faithless, He will remain faithful
  5. God cannot deny Himself.

We are dead in Christ through the “new birth” and have been made a new creation through the gift of Salvation and one day we will live with Him eternally.  Jesus never hid the fact that we would face difficulties in life and in the Christian walk and neither does Paul.  He tells us the end of that enduring is reigning with Jesus.  He warns that if we deny the Lord, God will deny us on that day and that is not something that any of us desires.  He tells us that we may be less than faithful but God will always be faithful because He cannot deny Himself and He is faithful.

So to be “Strong in Grace” is to embrace the faith that is in Jesus Himself.  It is to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, words, and deeds. It is to allow the Holy Spirit to shed the Love of God abroad in our hearts and to teach us all things that Jesus said.  It is to allow the Holy Spirit to quicken our mortal bodies so that we shake off the shackles of carnality and move into the realm of the spiritual.  It is to become focused on the King and the Kingdom of God as paramount and supreme above all else.  It is to TOTALLY SURRENDER our life, all of it to GOD!

It is in that condition and position that we become “Strong in Grace” and no matter what comes we come out the other side IN CHRIST and therefore VICTORIOUS!

May God be with you as you go through your day!

MOUTH AND HEART CHRISTIANS……

Spiritual Blog - Words

Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” NASU

 There have been times in my life, Christian walk, and ministry that I have either found myself out of harmony with these two or have encountered others who were so conditioned.  What does it mean to be out of harmony between the “mouth” and the “heart”?  It means that what you are saying is not what you really believe or living and that would fall under the definition of “hypocrisy”.  None of us wants to be a hypocrite.

David’s prayer is one that I pray regularly and with earnest because I recognize that if “my talking the talk” does not line up with “my walking the walk” then it is like “rain on a tin barn” and is only noise but no substance.  There will be no impact on lives for the good and God only repulsion and rejection of both the message and messenger.  But, it goes deeper than that because if my “words” are not in harmony with the “meditation” of my heart then I lose out in my relationship with God and do not develop or enjoy the bountiful benefits of walking with Him.  I am, at best, out of fellowship with my Lord and at worst in a rebellious state and in danger of being spewed out of His mouth.

I want my words to PLEASE THE LORD as well as my thoughts, heart, and action.  I want my actions, which spring from a pure heart to be pleasing to God and productive for the cause of the Kingdom of God.  I believe that the vast majority of believers desire the same thing ALL THE TIME.  Therefore, the question arises – “How Do We Ensure That Is the Case?”  I believe that Jesus said it best in Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” NASU  Paul echoed that in a different fashion in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 – “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” NASU If we are to have our “words” and “meditation” or our MOUTH and HEART be in harmony with the pleasure of the Lord we MUST make Him first above everything.  We MUST take proactive steps to ensure that NO THOUGHT that is out of harmony with His Word is allowed lodging in our hearts or minds.  We MUST become people of PRAYER, PRAISE, and PURSUIT of God.  If we do that I am convinced that God will step into our situations and maneuver our “words” and “meditations” so that they are in complete harmony and pleasing to the Father!

May God be with you and guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord as you go through your day!