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As someone who talks for a living, and who is talkative by nature, I find this verse extremely arresting:

“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” (Matthew 12:36–37 ESV).

The word that gives me pause there is the word “careless”.

It is the Greek word argos which means: inactive, i.e. unemployed; (by implication) lazy, useless: — barren, idle, slow.[1]

According to Leon Morris, “Jesus is saying that in the end we must all give account of ourselves and that words we take lightly will then be seen to have meaning, for they show what we are in our innermost being.”[2]

It is our flippant words, our “off the cuff remarks”, our “hot takes” and “meaningless Tweets” that provide unique insight into our true nature and essential character.

The distressing thing about that is, you can’t fix this problem or mitigate this hazard simply by being more careful with how you speak, write and Tweet. That would, by definition, render those statements explicitly NOT argos. They would no longer be lazy, idle, unemployed words – they would be careful, edited, screened and sifted words. Thus, the only way to fix this problem is to improve the nature and overflow of your heart and that is long, slow, Gospel, Jesus work.

God help!


Pastor Paul Carter

To listen to the most recent episodes of Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes. To access the entire library of available episodes see here. You can find his personal blog, Semper Reformanda, by clicking here.

[1] Greek Strong’s Dictionary

[2]Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, Pillar New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 322.