Every Single Word

Too many to count

I’ve thought and spoken and written a lot of words in my lifetime.

Even if I could remember them all, I probably can’t count high enough to tally all of them.

Too many to account for

As I age, I read the Word of God more and more — that healing, truthful, love letter from the Creator and Ruler of everything.

It wasn’t until recently that I read a passage that has made my words catapult to the forefront of my consciousness.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 (New International Version)

When I began investigating, some translations use “idle word” or “empty word”. And most of the commentaries mention that Jesus was referring to the Pharisees, who more than proved they were more interested in power and legalities than compassion and doing the right thing.

But the verse doesn’t say “But I tell you Pharisees will have to account….”.

It says “…man will have to account…”

Every human will have to account for every careless, thoughtless, empty word. Words that have no value and have not resulted in any good for others.

Too many to grieve

That has sobered and saddened me more than I can say. No pun intended.

I’m grieved and overwhelmed as I consider the vast number of words I’ve thought, spoken, or written in my life that have been careless or idle or empty.

  • Careless words where I “cared less” for what others needed, and when my intention was to:

    • Control the situation so it would turn out the way I wanted
    • Make everyone think I was the smartest and “best” person in the room
    • Mouth comfort just so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable around a person who was hurting
    • Speak briefly and get away from the other person as quickly as possible because I decided I had more important things to do
  • Idle words that wasted my time and the time of others, because I didn’t want to do anything useful.
  • Empty words that held no value when I spoke or wrote them, and didn’t do anyone any good.
  • And the words spoken in anger or fear or hatred or frustration.

Not too many to forgive

God’s Word reveals, and convicts, and heals, and comforts, and calms, and guides.

And God’s Word also says: “You may ask Me for anything in My Name, and I will do it.” John 14:14 (New International Version)

So I asked in Jesus’ Name for forgiveness for all the careless, idle, empty words I’ve spoken, or thought, or written. And that God will heal the damage I’ve done with them.

I also asked for God’s help to be mindful of every one of my words for the rest of my life.

I’m not a Bible scholar, so I don’t know if asking and accepting forgiveness means that I won’t have to account for all of my words. I’ll let others debate that.

But what I do know, is that I’ve accepted the overwhelming gift of forgiveness for them. And God has forgiven me – and will know that even if I still have to account for them when I see Him face to face.

Never too many in prayer

One more sentiment from me: I will do my best to remember to pray for you, whatever you need. And I ask God to help me remember to keep my word about praying for you.

What helps you speak helpful words?

Every Single Word – What helps you speak helpful words? Click To Tweet

Joni Vance is an award-winning author of fiction, essay, and poetry. She loves mystery, history, and how God reveals Himself every day.


May God reveal the mystery of His love in your life story.

6 thoughts on “Every Single Word

  1. Great thoughts, Joni. Thank you for sharing your heart and encouraging me and others.

  2. Joni,

    This was really convicting (in a good way) to me this morning! I had a rather disappointing morning and really wanted to just vent to someone, but my mom sent me this blog post to read before I could find anyone to vent to. lol I decided to keep my idle words as idle thoughts and lamented to the Lord instead. He helped set me straight after that.

    So grateful to read your words this morning. 😉

    • Thank you for reading and sharing, Allison. I’m glad the post was helpful. And I’m thankful God always listens when I vent (and helps me see what He wants me to do about it). 🙂

  3. I love you so much, Joni! I’m sure God loves you very much too—for such a sweet, heart-felt, conviction, and repentance. You are such an inspiration to me as I watch your walk with Christ get stronger and stronger. And your reminder of our “idle words” in this blogpost helps my walk become stronger as I ask forgiveness for my many words I shouldn’t have spoken, thoughts, and sins. I am so grateful for the time you take to write each week. You help me so much with your posts!

    • I appreciate you being a faithful reader. And I’m thankful the words God gives me are helpful to you.

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