Bernard H. Goetz, who claimed self-defense in shooting four youths just before Christmas, 1984 in a New York subway train, was acquitted of all charges except possession of an illegal weapon. But a second grand jury, called because of new evidence, indicted Goetz on four counts of attempted murder and other charges as well. It seems that Mr. Goetz talked too much about the incident after his acquittal by the first grand jury. Had he kept quiet and refrained from certain remarks, the case would never have been revived.
President Reagan was testing a microphone just prior to a regular Saturday afternoon broadcast and spoke in jest about bombing Russia. Some reporters took the comment and printed it in their columns. Before long the entire world knew what the President had said. It reminds us of what the Lord said in Luke 12:3, "Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."
Isn't it amazing how little we regard the sins of speech? An angry word uttered in the heat of the moment, an insinuation is made, perhaps a thoughtless swearword is spoken, or the passing on of some little morsel of gossip. Too often we consider these to be inconsequential at the time, and then later we regret what has been said. God doesn't take such a casual attitude toward these sins. Note: Mt. 12:36
I. What is an Idle Word?
A. It is one that is spoken without being thought through.
1. Literally it means 'free from work'.
2. Jas. 2:20, "Faith without works is dead".
3. 2Pe. 1:8, "...that ye shall neither be barren or unfruitful..."
4. From these examples of the use of the word translated "idle" we can draw that an 'idle' word is one that hasn't been worked over, or one that is unfruitful.
B. Note the context of Mt. 12:36
1. Jesus healed a man in v22 who was possessed with a devil and all the people were amazed.
2. When the Pharisees saw it they responded by accusing Jesus of performing this miracle by the power of Satan.
3. It was an idle charge thrown out in the heat of controversy. 4. Jesus proved that it had no validity in the next few verses.
C. So the warning is about making statements without thinking them through.
1. Someone has put it this way, "Be careful not to start mouth without making sure the brain is engaged."
2. Pr. 10:19, "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise."
3. Jas. 1:19, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"
4. Many things are opened by mistake, but none so frequently as the mouth.
II. What is so serious about idle words?
A. Idle words detracts from a wonderful gift of God.
1. Of all earthly creations, man alone has the full gift of speech.
2. Speech is more than a mere emitting of sounds like crashing thunder or the whistling wind.
3. Speech is an expression of reason.
4. Thinking is speaking within and speaking is thinking out loud.
5. Only man has been given this ability...we shouldn't dare to abuse this privilege by using it to utter idle words.
6. Note: Thomas Edison.
a. The noted inventor was being introduced at a banquet one evening.
b. The man went to great lengths to praise Edison for inventing the 'talking machine'.
c. Edison got up and said that it was God who invented the first 'talking machine' and that he had invented the first one that could be shut off.
d. Pr. 17:27a, "He that hath knowledge spareth his words:"
B. Idle words disclose our true natures.
1. An accent often betrays a person's geographical or national origin.
2. Peter's accent gave him away on the night that Jesus was taken. Mt. 26:73, "And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee."
3. In Judges 12:5-6 we read of 42,000 Ephraimites who were slain; they could not hide their identity because they were unable to pronounce a particular word.
4. They now have the ability to make a 'voiceprint' which is as accurate as your fingerprint when it comes to identification.
5. Speech also exposes the condition of the heart.
6. Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." cf Mt. 12:34
7. What is uppermost in the heart is bound to spew forth in conversation.
a. A murmuring tongue indicates a complaining heart.
b. A critical tongue reveals a judging heart.
c. A filthy tongue flows from a dirty heart, and we could go on and on.
C. Idle words do damage to others.
1. Some of the most dangerous things are small.
2. Germs, viruses, etc.
3. Jas. 3:5, "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!"
4. Jas. 3:8, "But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."
5. Idle words have broken homes, divided families, sent innocent men to prison, crushed hearts, split churches, and sent some to an early grave!
III. Accountability for Idle Words.
A. God has been recording since Creation.
1. We think of recording machines as being recent technology, but God has been doing it for a long time.
2. Job cried out, "Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!" cf Job 19:23
3. Job's words are recorded, and so are ours.
4. Someone might think, "That's a lot of books!" Not really, we have CD-ROM's that have multiple volumes of encyclopedias on one 3 1/2 in disk.
B. One day the books will be opened.
1. Re. 20:12, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
2. Are we ready for that? "...Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment."
3. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." cf 1Co. 11:31
4. Oh how we ought to pray as David did in Ps 141:3, "Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips."
Nothing change anything that we have previously said, but, sin can be confessed, repented of, and forgiven. We can do something about what we may say in the future.