As someone who writes and podcasts, I think about my words fairly regularly. Sometimes, unfortunately, I think about them after the fact. But usually, I weigh my words. Especially when I write. It’s part of the reason I write so often. If I have a big announcement to make or heavy feelings to convey, I write. If I am having trouble thinking through something, I write. When I want to make sure what I’m teaching on a certain topic is Biblical, I write.
A couple of days ago, I wrote an article about worship. In said article, I mentioned that when my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ choose to forsake the assembly, “I feel like they didn’t show up for me.” I went on to explain that I feel like they aren’t there to cheer me on in my Christian race…which is a vital part of their Christian race. However, I had previously communicated that worship is, in fact, about God. Not me. But, someone didn’t read it that way. Someone decided to make up a fake email address and comment on the post berating me for said issue.
I don’t tell you that to whine, or get attention, or get any pity. When you do anything publicly, you are asking for criticism. When you are speaking the truth, you are inviting a lot of criticism. I realize, as a writer, I will get negative feedback. I need it! I need to stay humble. I need to grow. I need to be persecuted. I am not perfect and I realize that, so when I say something wrong, I need to know. If you know me at all, you know I don’t like to be wrong. If (and when) I am, I will do my very best to correct it as quickly as possible.
In this instance, though, I don’t think I was wrong (though you can lovingly correct me if I was). Still, the whole ordeal really made me stop and think about my heart. And your heart. And said anonymous emailer’s heart.
Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:35-37).”
I want to be a good person. I want to only bring forth good things. I don’t want to cut people down, criticize, gossip, backbite, or lie. I don’t want to tear down, bully, demean, or hurt. I want my words to be a reflection of what’s in my heart, and I want what’s in my heart to be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I want what’s in my heart to be Christ.
The problem is, Satan wants my heart, too. He wants to creep in and set up shop before I really realize what he’s doing. He wants to make it seem harmless – like hiding behind anonymity or posting a vague status online. He wants to make it seem like it isn’t really hurting anybody. Except it is. It’s hurting you.
Notice that Jesus said our words will justify or condemn us. If our hearts are filled with corrupt things that produce corrupt speech, those words will condemn us. I don’t want condemnation! I don’t want you to have condemnation! That is why I am pleading with you, pleading with myself, to watch your words. Or, just open your ears to your words. What are they saying about your heart? Is there corruption hiding inside? If so, please please please please get rid of it. Because words are a big deal.
Please know that as I type all of this, I am seeing corruption in my own heart. But part of the way I learn is to write. So as I learn and grow and stretch my own understanding, I pray that these thoughts can bless you as well. And maybe, we can grow together.