Matthew 12:33-37

“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 things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37

Who comes to mind when I say “evil person”?

For many years, Adolph Hitler was our embodiment of evil. More recently, Osama Bin Laden became evil’s poster boy. Drug kingpins, gangsters, human traffickers, pedophiles, mass murderers…they and many more obviously make the list.

And yet something tells me that these were not the people that Jesus had in mind when he spoke these words. In fact, he was talking to a group of Pharisees who had already decided amongst themselves that Jesus himself was the embodiment of evil. As Matthew says, they were already conspiring about how to get rid of Jesus.

What was Jesus’ most recent offense? He had cured a demoniac who had been unable to speak or see. The Pharisees were convinced that “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.”

To accuse Jesus, the Son of God, of being in league with the devil is about as low as it gets. Jesus responded with language that would live forever – a house divided against itself will not stand, the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit – both of these phrases come from this chapter.

Yet these words are directed, not at our list above, but at a group of well intended religious leaders who clearly thought themselves among the good guys of the day. They knew they had the best interests of the people at heart. They weren’t violent like Roman soldiers or hedonistic like Roman rulers. They were the good guys. Jesus was the problem.

So it goes. To listen well to Jesus’ warnings against the evil that flows from our hearts through our words we do well to resist the temptation to project evil “out there”, locating it “in them”. The truth is, there is a little evil in the best of us and a lot of good in the worst of us. The cosmic battle between good and evil rages inside of us, all of us.

To all of this Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Let us pray: Dear Lord, words matter. Your Word slices into us, revealing our sin and our complicity with evils small and large, reminding us of your love which heals and forgives. Our own words can cut and slice into others, and they can offer comfort, encouragement, and support. Words matter. Open our eyes that we might see, heal our tongues that we might speak the truth in love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Matthew 12:33-37”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

    “Words matter: Open our eyes that we may see, open our ears that we may hear God’s truth, and heal our tongues that we might speak the truth in love.” from Rev. Kerry’s prayer

    Amen to these words and thoughts.

  2. Jayce Says:

    29. August Wie ich in meinem Artikel (danke für den Link by the way) sagte, bin ich nicht zu diesem Konzert beifstegt und ich fand, dass das Orchester nicht viel bringen, oder zumindest n war nicht in der richtigen verwendet (40 Musiker, verdammt noch mal!). Aber ihre Stimme ist schön, das ist sicher

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