There are some words that tend to offend people. We all know what they are. Most of them are used as insults. We call them bad words. These words are dirty. But as upsetting as we all like to think these words are supposed to be, dirty words draw large crowds of people who claim they don't want to hear them. Our words and the way we use them show what we think, love, hate, and value. Jesus taught that it is important to evaluate people based upon their words. Jesus wants us to be on the lookout for bad words and recognize that what we say has eternal consequences. Our words reflect what we believe.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their blasphemous speech:
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. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:33–37)
Here Jesus is concerned with the worst kind of speech possible: false teaching. Jesus’ point is that people will know Christians by what they confess as their faith. Bad words in our culture can be abrasive and offensive, but false theology leads people astray. Christians must learn what God has said about himself in Scripture. We must learn how to talk about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in a way that is appropriate to who God is. We must learn to speak correctly about what the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are doing in the world. Our speech matters more than we realize. Through words we confess our faith. And the hope is that what we confess matches the faith given to us in Scripture. Paul gives an example of faithful speech about God in his letter to Timothy:
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16)
May we guard the most important area of our speech: our confession of the faith.