Idle Words Are Dangerous & Will Be Judged
Research suggests that people, on average, speak about 15,000 words per day. To put this in perspective, it is equivalent to over an hour and a half long speech every day. Now, imagine that the whole of your conversations were transcribed and reviewed at the end of each day, or possibly read to a group of people you admire. Would this long speech inspire them, disgust them, or simply confuse them? We must take great care to answer this question intentionally as we will give an account of all our idle words spoken, on the day of judgment. This is according to Jesus Himself; EVERY idle word.
Abstaining from overtly corrupted speech should be obvious enough for the Christian as we are told to, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth…” (Ephesians 4:29) But what exactly is “idle” speech? Idle words can be summed up in this: “uncalculated” or “lazy”. They are those words which come out with no intention; haphazard and useless. They do nothing, but occupy time. They do not tend to edification, nor necessarily to apparent corruption, but are useless fillers of space which effectively steal breath from God and rob others of potential edification. Do not suppose that this means there is no place for humor or lighthearted conversation. As Philip Doddridge observes,
Discourse tending to innocent mirth, to exhilarate the spirits, is not idle discourse; as the time spent in necessary recreation is not idle time”
But it is that speech which is dispensed with no particular aim but to be speaking for the sake of speaking that is meant by “idle”. Imagine a group of men standing around in a circle when they ought to be working. This is the type of idleness in mind. It is the shirking of duty with the aim of nothingness.
We will give an account of all these idle words. Do we not know that, “in the multitude of words sin is not lacking…” (Proverbs 10:19) and that, “a fool’s voice is known by his many words.”? (Ecclesiastes 5:3) Therefore, the more intentional we are, the less likely we are to be sinful in speech, exuding folly. Better to be silent than to introduce meaningless, lazy, and aimless words.
I want to note the peculiar and divine nature of speech in general. Think with me. What was the first “act” in recorded history? Was it not this command from God: “Let there be light.” He SPOKE! Then He continued speaking and by His speech, framed our worlds. Thirteen times in the first chapter of the Bible it is recorded that God “said” or “called”. Speech is the first divine attribute we read of. God “dictated” His word to His prophets which was then recorded for us to read. Jesus is called “The Word”. The very act of speaking is arguably the attribute which most denotes us as “Imago Dei” beings. Being made in His image and likeness, we are able to communicate; proclaiming, prescribing, blessing and cursing. Animals do not share this capacity with us, even if African Grey Parrots can mimic speech with some apparent intelligibility. Our form of communication is articulate and deeply intelligible precisely because it is one of God’s attributes given to us by Him, having been made in His image. We study the WORD of God. The very concept of “judgments”, “statutes”, “commands” etc. denote speech. God has never uttered an idle word. Think of it! Never once did Jesus speak in a way that was not intentional, but was always speaking those things which were “good for necessary edification, that [they imparted] grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) What a lofty thought. By speaking words, we most exhibit our similitude with God Himself. How careful then ought we to be that our words are intentional?
Our entire existence is governed and driven by words. When God sought to punish those in Babel, He confused their language, saying, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:7) Their speech was stifled, which halted progress. The most monumental events in world history were either words themselves, or actions which were engendered by words. The Declaration Of Independence, The Gettysburg Address, The Sermon On The Mount, The Ten Commandments, wars which were preceded by declarations of war, etc, etc. Even those without audible speech have words to see and those without sight have words to feel. From sign language for the deaf, to braille for the blind, humanity is marked by words; by speech. Even computer programs are coded with intentional language. There are no useless or “idle” codes in the computer, but only those things which are necessary to make it function more efficiently and completely. By words are men moved to tears or to rage. By words are men’s souls enlightened through the preaching of the gospel. By words are people encouraged and emboldened. Humanity exists in the realm of words.
While words of encouragement are necessary, unfortunately, words of rebuke are often necessary as well. Only let them be intentional and in accord with THE Word. The old saying goes, “you have two ears and one mouth; listen twice as much as you speak.” James similarly says that we ought to be “swift to hear” & “slow to speak.” When Jesus said, “be of good cheer.” it was intentional. When He said, “Woe to you!” it was also intentional. Whether in meaningful edification or necessary rebuke, our words should be intentional and calculated. We know that we are to be holy in all our conduct and that whatever we do, “in word or in deed” (Colossians 3:17) that we are to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Idle words cannot be spoken in the name of Jesus without bringing reproach upon Him.
Let us reflect on our speech and, perhaps, our lack of intentionality, that if all our words were reviewed daily in our own hearing, we would not be ashamed, but could stand before God justified in our speech. Let us strive to be intentional with our words, rather holding our tongue than simply hurling useless and lazy speech into existence as we will give an account of every idle word spoken. If we are good, we will bring forth good things out of the good treasure of our hearts. May we be more conformed to Jesus and as His words were fashioned with care and aimed with precision, so let our speech be more like His, that idleness, wherever it may be found, will not be found to occupy our tongues.
Thank you for your obedience and passion for Jesus. Thank you for showing us deeper meaning in His word. I’m at a point right now where I just want to stay in Him 24/7. I long to be able to just stay put away from the world and be in the word always. As there is so much growing I need to do.
God Bless your ministry
Amen Brother. I sure love your heart and mind for the holiness and righteousness of God. It is truly the evidence of the Spirit of Christ in you, and I know, I have Him too.
This wilderness life gets weary and tiresome at times with so few, and becoming fewer, to fellowship and share with. That being said, it is so encouraging to know that “across the plains”, there are others, like you, who truly love the Lord and His truth.
I can hardly wait to see Jesus and forever be in His Presence. To meet and fellowship with real “family”, brothers, like you, and sisters who have, and who will persevere and endure to the end. And so, I continue in prayer for all the saints, you included, until we all meet at that Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb. What at day that will be!
SO grateful to God for the wisdom and revelation He has bestowed upon you and your ministry. He has blessed you, and in turn blesses us. Thank you for clinging to our Lord like you do, and God speed to you too.
Amen! It’s truly amazing when you ask our LORD for more wisdom, he definitely gives you what you ask for. I find the power of descernment truly incredible. How I mourn for this world. Now that I see the truth for what it is (for it’s the truth that will set you free), I see my family turning away from God almighty. I see so many deceived. I do not judge, I pray deeply. Let us all spread the Good News in our own little way! But always with a cheerful heart and everything in love!
As always, edifying and matter of fact! You inspire so eloquently the truth and God’s Glory. Thx for the reminder. In name of our living lord and savior Jesus Christ.
This post was truely, as others you’ve made before, intentional to my, and I believe, our rebuke and edification. Thanks bro Joshua. Grace to you and peace from God.
Just thought I would bring to light a few verses that are the antithesis to idle words. Psalm 122:8-For the sake of my brothers and for my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.” 1Thes.5:11-Therefore encourage one another and build up one another. 1Cor.14:3-But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 1Sam.2:1-Then Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exalts in the Lord.” James 5:16-Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much! And finally, Proverbs 16:24-“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones” Peace, Love and Joy! KENNETH
Thank you. I came across your you tube sight and followed your direction through several videos regarding separation. It was quite an in-depth piece. It taught me also to be more in the scriptures and less following others or viewing others. Better to “study to show thy self approved…” rather than “watch to get someone else’s view!”
This devotional was truly helpful. I struggled with idle banter. Like an AM radio station I had to fill up the silence with my nattering or “humour!” I’m learning to bite my tongue and stay still in silence.
Saved, sober senior!
Dear Friends, Forgive me. But many of you, well-meaning though you were, frighten me with your heaping up praise upon Joshua. Proverbs 29:5 says to us, “A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.” When you desire to encourage others in a good work this is good, but if you praise him too much, this becomes a temptation that can set him up for a fall. Please be simple and sparing in your praise.
Awesome wisdom. Thanks so much for saying this
John- I’ve seen a lot of videos and they are excellent. My question is what bible do you use? Which is it that I see you reading out of in your videos? Thanks…
I mean Joshua not John, sorry typo….
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Hi Joshua..I am 65 and just came across you recently. I have been searching for God. I have been a Christian for over 30 years .but in the last few years I have become sceptical of the teachings I have been taught and the Church we attend.. we live in a small community and seeking where we should worship.. what should I be looking for in a Church assembly.. we attend an Alliance Church but , it seems wrong with my soul.. Thankyou