One of the most frightful warnings in scripture is the one about idle words. Frightful because scripture tells us that one day every child of God will stand before Christ at the Judgement (Bema) Seat and give an account for everything we have done or said in this life. We will answer for every idle word.
What are idle words? According to scripture, they are words totally void of wisdom (Proverbs 10:31); they speak evil (1 Peter 3:10-11); they foster conflict and spread lies (Zechariah 8:16-17) they are filled with double-speak (blessings and cursings) James 3:8-10; they use the Lord's name in a vile way (Exodus 20:7) one with a vile tongue says too much (Proverbs 10) they come from an evil heart (Proverbs 17:20); they are discouraging rather than inspiring (Ephesians 4:29-30); and idle talk reveals a total lack of discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27.
When you lie down at night, do you reflect on all the verbal exchanges you have made with people throughout that day. Did you build others up, or did you tear them down? Was the purpose of your words to elevate, and draw attention to yourself, or to extol others and honor God? Were the majority of your words unleashed in anger, arrogance or self-centeredness? Have you ever said words publicly that you have wished a thousand times you had kept to yourself?
Let us make no mistake - words, which come from our lips, reveal what is in our hearts.
Idle words include half-truths, lies, truth with intent to harm, jesting, which is to gain laughter at the expense of someone else. At best, idle words are empty, meaningless and wasted; at the worst, idle words are condemning, vicious, self-serving and corrupt.
Also, it must be pointed out that even good words are sometimes ill-timed. Sometimes total silence from us is the very best gift we can give to a hurting person. "A word fitly spoken (perfectly timed) is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Proverbs 25:11.
Jesus was the perfect example of what it meant to spread gracious, relevant, well-timed words. His words were comforting, upbuilding, thoughtful and helpful. When He expressed rebuke, it was always motivated out of love, defense of godliness, God's name, and for the purpose of encouragement. Such words were the reason thousands of people could sit on a hillside in the desert, hungry and tired, yet hang on every word which came from the Savior's mouth. Those words came from a pure, perfect heart of God. He was God in human form.
So I challenge all of us to measure and weigh every word which comes from our mouths. Are they words which are better left unsaid? If spoken, will they promote God's purpose in lives? Will you happen to discover that fewer words proceeding from your mouths will cause you to lie down at night with a clearer conscience?
We need to measure every word, because one day we will give a verbal answer to Christ as to why we said them, and I am afraid every person with whom we addressed in this life, who were recipients of vile, evil spewing from us, will be made known to us.
But isn't it wonderful to know God forgives us for sin - even idle talk? "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.