But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
I think no musical instrument in the world is like the utterance of speech in one whose voice is well trained, whose mind is rich with emotion, and who is accustomed to describe in graceful and appropriate language one's own experience in life. The conversation that flows in the quietude of a family, like the tinkling of a brook under the shadow of green trees; the conversation that flows like a river whose banks are efflorescent, and which holds its way deep and tranquil — such conversation may become a habit, not only in the sense of not being hurtful but in the sense of having a beauty which is pleasurable.
(H. W. Beecher.)
I. IDLE WORDS. —
1. By idle words we may understand such words as proceed from vanity or deceit, which comprehend the pretences and plausible speeches of the cunning, and the empty boastings of the vain-glorious man.
2. Idle words may comprehend the reports of envy and malice, by which our neighbour suffers in credit or reputation.
3. Idle words may imply such as are the product of a loose and idle mind, such as represent the impure conceptions of a mind polluted with lust.
4. By idle words we may understand useless and insignificant words which are spent to no great end or purpose, either good or bad.
II. THE SCOPE OF OUR SAVIOUR'S ARGUMENT in this place.
1. He descends from the greater to the less evils of speech; from blasphemy to the other evils which are generated in the heart, and from thence derived to the tongue — "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders," etc. Not only these but idle words will be punished. Jesting does not become the gospel.
III. THE END AND DESIGN OF SPEECH, which is the gift of God to mankind. If we use our speech to serve any purpose contrary to the end designed by God, we abuse His gift and must answer for it.
1. Speech was given for the communication of our thoughts to each other, yet all our thoughts are not to be brought into conversation.
2. The wants and necessities of nature call for our help, and as these subjects must employ great part of our thoughts, so likewise of our speech, for we cannot live without mutual aid.
3. Further, God has made us to delight in each other's company, hence it is lawful to employ speech for improving mutual love and friendship. Men may talk of many subjects which have no present instruction, Yet they may serve this end.
4. Consider the different degrees of sense and understanding that men are endowed with. The tongue cannot speak better than the understanding can conceive. Must not despise the conversation of weaker men.
(T. Sherlock, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.