Genesis 38:1-30; Matthew 12:33-45; Psalms 17:1-5; Proverbs 7:24-27
NT: “Either make the tree good and its fruit will be good, or make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good person produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil person produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights… When an unclean spirit comes out of a person, it roams through waterless places looking for rest but doesn’t find any. Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to my house that I came from.’ Returning, it finds the house vacant, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that person’s last condition is worse than the first. That’s how it will also be with this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:33-40; 43-45 CSB)
When Jesus mentioned “careless” words, He was talking about the words that we speak unintentionally. The nature of what is in us comes out in the words we speak when we are in private – not when we are in public and intending to impress people with our rhetoric. Though the world judges us on the things that we speak in public, the Lord judges us by the things that we carelessly say when we are in private – when we are no longer in mixed company – when we are in the locker room with the guys or having lunch with the ladies – when we can hide behind the “anonymity” of social media. It is in those words that you find out what is truly in a person. Evil words come out of a person filled with evil, and good words come out of a person that is filled with good. The Pharisees, incensed at His charges, basically say back to Him, “who are you to make such claims… we don’t believe you have the right or authority to label us I such a way… prove yourself by showing us a sign.” Jesus then proceeds to reveal the state of their heart even more by bringing up Jonah. Jonah was someone who very unwillingly brought a message of repentance to a heathen gentile nation – something the Pharisees would never do. Jesus basically said, I’ll give you the same sign that Jonah gave the Ninavites… in fact, I’ll give you and even greater sign that Jonah gave – and the Ninavites who you despise will stand in judgement of you, for they heeded the sign. You won’t. Then finally, Jesus explained that it isn’t enough to be clean on the outside. It isn’t even enough to be “clean” on the inside. What matters is that you are filled with good. So many Christians will go so far as getting saved and cleaned out, but they don’t fill themselves up with good – with the abiding presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit, and in the end, even though they might be “saved,” their lives end up just as bad, or even worse than before they were saved. What is my life filled with? What do the words I speak in private moments reveal about the contents of my heart?
Psalms: “Lord, hear a just cause; pay attention to my cry; listen to my prayer — from lips free of deceit. Let my vindication come from you, for you see what is right. You have tested my heart; you have examined me at night. You have tried me and found nothing evil; I have determined that my mouth will not sin. Concerning what people do: by the words from your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps are on your paths; my feet have not slipped.” (Psalms 17:1-5 CSB)
The way that we maintain a pure heart, which produces pure words and pure actions, is to keep our eyes on the Lord, keep our ears attuned to His words, keep our feet on His paths, and keep our hearts filled with His presence.