Every Word

By David Servant

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:20).

I once read an otherwise intelligent unbeliever state that the reason he didn’t believe in the God of the Bible is because, according to the 9th Commandment, God only condemned misrepresenting the truth when one is under oath as a “witness” in a court case. So, the God of the Bible, he oddly concluded, is OK when people lie outside of court, and that was a standard that was inferior to his own!

Of course, honest readers of the 9th Commandment better conclude that the language there serves to remind us that everyone is always in God’s court. Any misrepresentation of the truth is a lie told by a false witness in the direct hearing of the Great Judge. Something for all of us to ponder.

Jesus warned about being “guilty before the court” for calling a brother an “empty head” (Matt. 5:22). He was obviously not speaking of any human court, but of God’s court. All of the words that we speak during strife with our brothers occurs right in God’s courtroom! Yikes! People naturally try to behave their best in earthly courtrooms. Let us not forget that we live in God’s courtroom every moment! And He is listening.

Jesus once said: “I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37). Our words reveal what is in our hearts (see Matt. 15:18), and what is in our hearts reveals our true spiritual state.

Our mouths were created by God to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). We are to “let no unwholesome word proceed from our mouths, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). Concerning our “untamed” mouths, James bemoaned: “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (James 3:9-10).

All of this is why David was inspired to pray: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3). Help us, Lord!