In Matthew 12, verses 33 through 36, Jesus is once again responding to criticism from the Pharisees, who had heard about the miracles he was performing. He tells us, ” A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgement day of every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
These verses really speak to me because I have a tendency to speak before thinking. The further I go along on my path of Christianity, I realize how important it is to have restraint in what I say. I may not be able to change my thoughts and reactions internally, at least not in the present, but if I allow myself to have time to process how I am reacting, I can allow space to remind myself about the many verses in the Bible that warn us about how we need to practice a lot of restraint when it comes to speech.
The last verse above, where Jesus tells us we have to give an accounting for what we say, shows us just how important it is that we choose our words wisely. The best way to do this is to give ourselves space to pray when we feel we are unsettled emotionally in an interaction, especially when we feel angry A counselor once gave me a diagram that had “anger” at the center of a circle, and around the circle were all the emotions that can cause us to react in anger, such as betrayal, hurt, embarrassment, shame, and so forth. She told me that anger is not an emotion in itself, but a reaction to internal upset, something we use to cover up our hurt. In the Bible it is made clear over and over how destructive angry speech can be. If we give ourselves time to pray when we feel provoked or unsettled by others, we can ask Jesus to bring his love into the space between us and our anger, so that we don’t end up saying or doing something that we have to repent and ask forgiveness for.
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