Every Word

Readings: Psalm 21; Genesis 15:1-18; 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. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” [Matthew 12:33-37, NRSV]

Perhaps it’s not the word itself, but the aim and intention behind it. Is it spoken softly with warmth in the voice, or is its sharp-edged sarcasm deadly in intent and execution? The careless word isn’t necessarily the four letter one yelled after stubbing a toe or dropping a plate; it could be lovesmartthanksplease, or any number of words that indicate their opposite when said in a certain way.

Reality is shaped by the words we utter and write because they are powerful purveyors of our soul’s treasure. We can bless or curse ourselves and others with them. It has less to do with syntax than with our own inner reality offered to others through them. Are we offering the love of God so freely given to us, or are we so burdened by our own inner torment that all we have to give is hell?

It gives new meaning to the old adage: If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all

Mandy Patinkin, You’ve got to be carefully taught/Children will listenOscar and Steve, Nonesuch records, October 24, 1995]

Lord, guide my feel, walking home to Bethlehem.

[Two Rowhouses, 2018-2019, by Colin Fredrickson]

Published by

Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “Every Word”

  1. Spoke deeply to my heart this morning as one of my deepest prayers this Advent season is for the deep love of God to filter through my sister and she can embrace that love having been through years of emotional, physical , sexual abuse and hasn’t been able to believe she is loved and remains in psychiatric care. What our children and loved ones hear and experience truly affects how they experience the love or nonexistent love of God. Thank you

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