Lord, let my thoughts, words, and deeds, be pleasing to You. Amen.
Text: Matthew 12:33-37
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Let truth, love, goodness, and purity dwell in your heart, then they will go out from your heart in your speaking. Just as every tree bears fruit according to its kind, so every person speaks according to the condition of his heart. If the heart is evil, bitter, unclean, worldly, selfish, then the speaking is also. There are indeed many degrees of wickedness in hearts. But an unconverted person really bears nothing good in himself and cannot speak the holy words of love. See then, above all, that you have a new heart, created according to God in true righteousness and holiness. From your words people judge what is inside you, especially the saints who have God’s Spirit. But even if people might be mistaken about you, still the Lord always knows exactly what you are, and your heart always shows itself in what you say. The Spirit that lives in you is in your words, and He always touches the spirit of those who hear you. If anything like it is found there, it bears fruit and grows, sends its roots deep into the soul and goes forth in your life. If the Spirit in your words does not find immediate entrance into others, He may in time find a place and put down roots in the hearts of others by repeating the words in various forms. So the word is a great power in the world, so great that there is nothing greater. Let it be a good spirit that lives in you and fosters your words.
But you also have the Spirit in your soul, His light in your understanding, His purity in your heart, His peace in your conscience, so that you are known to be righteous by your words. So watch yourselves, and guard your tongue, for your old man wants to come forth and the devil has great joy in putting evil words in the mouth of the saints. Unchastity, anger, greed, impatience, and the like are in you, and if you are not watchful, they flow over your lips. “Your tongue defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature” (Jam 3:6), as James says. Indeed the Lord may thus humble His children in this way, but the harm that hurts others you cannot prevent. So never forget these words from the Lord’s own mouth: “I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Mat 12:36). Be diligent to do good toward your neighbor in all that you say – be diligent in this! Let everything that you say be true and pure and good. You can bear much good fruit in this way; you can spread much blessing among mankind in this way. So do it!
God, mercifully help us always to speak words of truth and love, to honor you and edify our neighbor. Keep us from all evil speaking; let it never come out from us nor find a way into our soul. Amen.
And let me promise naught
But I can keep it truly,
Abstain from idle words,
And guard my lips still duly;
And grant, when in my place
I must and ought to speak,
My words due power and grace;
Nor let me wound the weak.
Heermann: O God, Thou faithful God L 526:3 ELH 470:3; tr. C. Winkworth;
tune: O Gott, du frommer Gott