Watch Your Words

Lou Lotz

READ : Matthew 12:34-37

On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak (v. 36).

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exod. 20:16). In a court of law, a false witness might exonerate a guilty person, or even worse, convict an innocent person.

But there are other ways, beside perjury, to bear false witness. Gossip wipes a clean cloth across the dirt of someone else's life, inspects the filth with relish, and shares it with anyone who will listen.

Fault-finding is another form of false witness. A fault-finder is like a vulture looking down on a landscape, its gaze fixed on a dead or dying animal. The landscape may be beautiful, lush and green, bubbling streams and fields of flowers. But the vulture sees none of that; he sees only that which is rotten. Who has not looked with a vulture's eye at someone's life, ignoring the virtues, proclaiming the flaws?

When Dorothy met the Scarecrow on the Yellow Brick Road to Oz, he bemoaned the fact that he had no brains. “How can you talk if you have no brains?” asks Dorothy. Says the Scarecrow: “Lots of talk comes from people who have no brains!” Sometimes we talk as though we have no brains, speaking lies, fault-finding, gossiping, bearing false witness against our neighbors, forgetting that “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” (vv. 36-37).

PRAYER

Father, forgive me for bearing false witness.