Summary: The 7th in a series of messages from texts unique to Matthews Gospel. This one centers around the power of words and how they can be misused Taken from Matt. 12:36-37, and Matt. 16:16-19
Matthew’s Unique Message #7
The Power of Words
CHCC: Preached on July 13, 2007
This month we celebrated Independence Day --- the day our Nation was born. The good old US of A is far from perfect, but no one can deny that we are a nation of unprecedented Freedoms. One of our most important freedoms is found in Article 1 of our Bill of Rights. Among other things, it says: Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …
Our Founding Fathers understood the Power of Words! Through the 231 years of our existence, men have fought and died to preserve our Freedom of Speech as well as our other Liberties. Today we’re going to look at what Jesus taught about the Power of our Words. The Gospel of Matthew records two statements Jesus made that are not recorded anywhere else.
In Matthew 12:35-37 Jesus gave this warning about the danger of Careless Words. “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."
1. Careless Words --- Matthew 12:35-37
I think we can agree that “careless words” are pretty common in our Nation. A lot of people seem to think “Freedom of Speech” means we can let anything fly without consequences. But all of us have a responsibility to keep guard over what we say. And that’s especially true for Christians.
James, the brother of Jesus, had this to say: The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:6 Strong words! --- but not an exaggeration.
A famous theologian from the 16th century named John Calvin had this to say: “I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels.” Think about THAT next time you want to run off at the mouth.
Never underestimate the power of words. Words ALONE can ruin friendships and destroy families. Proverbs 15:4 says Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit. Take a minute to think about the way you talk to your children. Are your words giving them life or are you speaking Careless words that crush their spirits?
Are you Careless in the way you talk to your wife or your husband? I read in a book on marriage that it takes 100 compliments to balance out ONE criticism from a husband or wife. I don’t know about you, but I’d have trouble coming up with 100 compliments! It’s a lot smarter --- guys --- to swallow that careless criticism! Remember this helpful quote from Winston Churchill. He once said, "By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach."
Careless words can poison friendships, wreck families, and end careers. We saw a very public example of this just last spring. I’ll quote an Associated Press news report from April 12, 2007 to refresh your memory. It said, CBS announced Thursday that it has fired Don Imus from his radio program, following a week of uproar over the radio host’s derogatory comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. The article went on to say that MSNBC also fired Don Imus from his television simulcast of the same program. NEW YORK, April 12, 2007 (CBS/AP) www.cbsnews.com
Now I’m not that familiar with Imus in the Morning, but I’ve been told that Don Imus pushed Freedom of Speech as far as he could. He regularly said all kinds of things that were derogatory and improper. But since his show brought CBS Radio about 15 million a year, Imus probably figured he could say whatever he wanted without any consequences.
But he was wrong. One careless statement --- about three words long --- cost him his career. In an interview, Imus said he wasn’t going to whine about his fate. “I said it,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t say it.”
According to Matthew 12:35, EVERYONE stands in danger of being Imused. Jesus said, I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
Let’s take some time to understand what kind of words Jesus had in mind when he warned that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. A few verses earlier, here’s what happened:
They brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." Matthew 12:22-24