The words we say matter


Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.”

The things we say really matter! How many times have you heard someone say something unkind only to follow it with the words, “I was only kidding?” Things said in jest may or may not be true, but more often than not there is a hint of truth to what spills out. What we are really thinking will find a way to express itself and give away our true character.

Jesus confronted the Israelite religious leaders condemning them with their words. The Pharisees hated Jesus and seethed with anger over everything He said and did. They desperately wanted to find a way to get rid of Him so they discredited His good works, attributing them to Satan, the devil. These educated men who knew the Holy Scriptures so well should have recognized the prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus. Instead, they chose to disregard the fulfillments in order to keep their power and control over the people.

Jesus responded to their hateful words with a comparison. Just as the condition of a tree is known by the condition of its fruit, so the character of a man is made known by his words. A good man thinks on things that are appropriate and true, so naturally his conversations will reflect these ideas. On the other hand, an evil man speaks out of the vile thoughts that fill his heart and mind. In both cases the words spoken either justify or condemn.

Paul, in the book of Philippians, encouraged his readers to think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise. Those who make it a habit to fill their mind with these thoughts will find that, like a good tree with delicious fruit, their words will reveal excellent character.

Filling our minds with good thoughts takes a lot of work. We must choose what we watch and to whom we listen. This may mean avoiding certain places, or cultivating different friendships. We must be self-aware and question our motives and desires, submitting them all to God and asking for His help.

The Pharisees refused to do this. They harbored jealousy and pride in their hearts and these poisonous attitudes seeped out in their words and actions. Jesus warned them, as He also warns us, that what we say really matters.

So make sure your tree is bearing good fruit. God is listening. We will be held accountable for every careless word we speak even if we say we are just kidding.



Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at

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