Jesus put stock in Words

Let’s consider what Jesus said—Matthew 12: 33″Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34″You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35″The good man brings out of [his] good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of [his] evil treasure what is evil. 36″But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37″For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (NASB)
Jesus put a lot of stock in words, and he even is identified by the name “Word” in John’s Gospel when it is said that the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. (John 1:14)
Both as minister and counselor, I constantly hear things about words, and about communication, and in particular, verbal abuse. A few things have stood out over the years.
First of all, I observe that many verbally abusive people do not admit to knowing they are verbally abusive. I suppose it is possible that they really don’t hear themselves like others hear them, and to some extent this may be true of all of us. But, if your partner says that you are harsh or unkind with them, just replying with saying, “No, I’m not”, is not helpful at all, for either one of you. While there are some false accusations of verbal abuse, most of the time in the counseling room when I hear someone deny they are verbally abusive I am reminded of the old joke about the man who was talking with his wife on the phone, hearing her say, “Watch out, the news says there is a driver on the wrong side of the freeway.” Then the guy says, “It’s worse than that, I’m seeing about a hundred cars on the wrong side.” If your words don’t bless, and heal, and build others up, and if your words wound, and tear down… then it’s time to look at them seriously.
Second, I often hear people say, “But our problem is more than communication.” Now, that is probably true. I have little doubt that a communication problem travels alone. People who are verbally abusive often fail to see the connections between words and attitudes. People who wish to connect with others, to engage, to share, to understand and be understood, discover that words fitly spoken help make those connections. By the same token, people who do not want quality relationships are likely to disregard the building blocks of relationship. Often, the rejection or minimization of communication is the first step in rejecting intimacy, rejecting connection, and rejecting togetherness.
Jesus put a lot of stock into words. We should, also.

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