And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. ~ Matthew 12:36 (NLT)
As we discussed in our devotional a few days ago, the perception of the outside world when it comes to the majority of Christians is that they are all talk, but rarely do anything to benefit the community that surrounds them. To summarize that particular devotional, that’s bad.
However, there is a different type of idle talk. This idle talk happens in our churches, schools, workplaces and homes way too often as well. What is “idle talk?” Well, to put it simply, it is like a car at a stop sign. It may make noise, because the engine is running, but it doesn’t go anywhere or produce any forward momentum.
Here, Jesus is using the term idle talk as a synonym for two things: Saying we will do something, then not doing it; and complaining. It’s the latter one I want to address today.
Complainers make a lot of noise, but never seek to resolve the situation they are complaining about. They, therefore, remain at the stop sign. In our current day and age, we tend to call it “venting.” At the end of the tirade, we often say something like “Well, I feel better.” However, nothing is accomplished other than feelings are hurt, others are now upset, (usually at the target of the complaining) and the situation that caused the complaining is not resolved. It’s all idle talk.
So, what does Jesus say about such talk? “You must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.” That one stings a bit!
So, what must we do to get back on track with how God asks us to communicate? As we’ve seen previously, everything we do must be motivated by love. Therefore, we need to be able to have conversations with people within our schools, churches, homes, and workplace because we love those God has placed in our lives. We need to speak to those that we feel the need to vent about rather than complaining to others about them or questioning their motives, intellect, or wisdom. We need to have hard conversations – not shouting matches, but real conversations that lead to understanding, even if there is still disagreement.