Thursday, January 18, 2007

Careless words

How often I wish I could do over a bad decision, or especially that I could take back a careless word! Someone has pointed out that God created the sun, moon, and stars with a word, he created the seas and sky with a word, and he created life on earth with a word -- and that, being made in God's image, we were also given the power of words.

That power can be used for good or ill, and as this passage says, whether it's good or bad reflects the internal condition of the heart:
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.
Matthew 12.35-37
Looking at the last part of that passage, my reaction was to ask, "What can I say today that will push the balance toward acquittal?"

But that's wrong on two counts. First, the Bible doesn't say that good words are weighed against bad words and that judgment is based on that sort of comparison. Second, the Bible does say that the words reflect the heart -- hence the judgment is based on the heart, as reflected by the words.

And while I can imagine having control over my words (but this too is probably a vain imagining), I have no illusions that I can control the way my heart is. From the point of view of human sufficiency (or in the eyes of the human potential movement) this is Bad News. But from the perspective of leading me closer to God, it's a powerful corrective.
Lord, I'm helpless to change my own heart. I am self-centered, weak, and easily distracted. Send your Spirit I pray, and change me as the potter re-shapes a bad pot on the wheel to make it a thing of beauty. And what you don't change in me, I pray that you would use to bring glory to you.

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