Scary Thoughts about Every Idle Word

Friday is for Thinking

RegretThis week I was away speaking on The Art of Biblical Meditation at a retreat for the college ministry of a multi-congregation church from Chicago. Thursday was the last day of my three day seminar. It was a fun, challenging, and convicting time—not just for the students and leaders but for me. I was reminded of Jesus words, that we will give an account for every idle word that proceeds from our mouths (Matthew 12:36). Then there comes the echo of Paul’s words, “let not many of you aspire to be teachers” for they incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1).

At the same time, I was editing an essay for publication on the self-identity of the Christian, (Are we Settlers or Sojourners?). It’s only 7,500 words, but I will have to give an account for every one of them.


Here I am writing still more words for which I will have to give an account. I will have to account for both my words and the motives behind them. The weight of being a teacher and wanting to “get it right” lays heavy on my soul.

Then I read psalm 12 this morning and saw these ominous words in verses 3-4:

Psalm 12:3–4 (ESV)
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
.         the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
.         our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

My first thought when I read this passage was to see prosperity preachers in this indictment. They are always flattering people and making great boasts. They are always telling people they can have what ever they can name with their “name it/claim it” theology. Arrogant plans are their stock. 

But then I thought a little more.
I meditated a little longer.
I thought a little harder.
I looked for the beam in my own eye.
I got a pen out and listed things to avoid:

    • Flattery
    • Great boasts
    • Arrogant plans
    • Prideful confidence

How often have I been guilty of all of these?

Too often.

That’s what biblical meditation ought to do. It ought to take our eyes off others and focus them on Christ and His Kingdom. It ought to cause us to see God and ourselves more clearly, so that He would increase and we would decrease.

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