Weekend Edification: Matthew 12:34-7

This weekend, we complete with this miniseries, looking at Matthew 12:34-7:

You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak [what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.  35  The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 But I tell you that every careless word that people[speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 For ]by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

These words apply not just to Jewish religious leaders of the first century, nor just to Jewish religious leaders, nor to Church leaders only, but to all of us.  Most certainly, they are a reminder to any of us in leadership positions, whether clergy or teaching, or parish council, or choir director, but to all of us.  For we speak out of what fills our heart.  That is, we speak from our inner disposition.  Hang out with me long enough, and listen to what I say and how I say it, and you’ll learn who I am and what my struggles may be.  It is the same for all of us.

Ultimately, this is one of the main reasons one ought not to swear.  The point is not so much not to break some swearing rule, but because if we have to swear a lot, then something rotten is filling our hearts.  We all have our moments, and with God’s grace, they can become fewer, but we definitely do not want to present rotten hearts.  We should seek to present pure and virtuous hearts.  How do we speak?  If not the way we wish, then that is a sign.  These words need not be the ending point.  In fact, they never should be.  Rather, they should be the beginning, that which convicts us and inspires us to get to the heart of the matter–our heart!

Yet, another lesson here is to avoid “careless” speech.  Carlessness was a concern for St. Sarapion of Thmuis, a desert father about whom I’ve published a book (http://www.cecs.acu.edu.au/monographseries.htm though I also believe it is or soon will be available from Eighth Day Books here in the states–see link to the right).  As Sarapion wrote, when arguing against the Manichaeans (followers of Mani’s religion):

“We always toil against something careless so that we might not unexpectedly fall into ruin through carelessness, thinking we are secure. For our sake, Paul says, “I punish and enslave my body so that having proclaimed, I might never become reprobate.”[1] ”

Or, to put it more bluntly:

“when heedlessness reigns, the actions are shameful and adulterated.”  Watching how and what we say requires that we watch how and what we think and this is necessary step toward purity of heart.

[1] 1 Cor 9:27.