And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
We live in a name-calling world: a verbal battleground. Curses that flew below the radar screen now fly in our faces. Curse words are not just four-letter words. They are insults. They slap our cheeks, water our eyes, punch our guts, and knock us down.
The stronger among us speak up and fight back. But gentle souls die--slowly or quickly. People of conscience agree that school bullying is a growing blight among our children. Isolated kids can be crushed: swayed into suicide or transformed into shooters--all by the scorn of their peers.
Soon after the prophet Elisha took over from his mentor, Elijah, Elisha was heckled by a group of mean kids: 'As he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, 'Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!' ' (2 Kings 2:23-25).
Surprising to modern-day me, their punishment was terrible. God did not overlook name-calling--even among the youth. Why do we overlook it? Why doesn't the church address it? Jesus did. He called it 'murder.' He said it violated the heart of the 6th commandment:
'You shall not murder' (Exodus 20:13). Jesus is clear. The consequences of verbal defamation are severe.
When the prophet Isaiah was taken to Heaven in a vision, he said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts' (Isaiah 6:5).
God cleaned Isaiah's lips with fire. Let us do the same with the fire-power of God's Word.
Repeat after Him: 'Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips' (Psalm 141:3). 'Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer' (Psalm 19:14).
Christians must set a new standard. Speak words of life.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the The Church series.