Matthew 12:33-37 NLT “A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad. You brook of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart. And I tell you this, that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak. The words you say now reflect your fate then; either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned.”
Have you ever looked at an orange tree and seen grapes hanging off of it? No, you can identify a fruit tree by what fruit it bears. Likewise, you can identify a good person by the fruit that comes from their lives and a bad person will reflect their inner nature by their speech and actions. What lives in the heart arises and comes out of the mouth through the words and actions of the person. Jesus is saying that the Pharisees, who had just blasphemed the Holy Spirit by attributing the works that Jesus did to the devil instead of the Holy Spirit, were like a brood of snakes because their inner beings, or their hearts were filled with slanderous words and actions. Jesus told them that their blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the sin that is unpardonable and would never be forgiven.
We speak of our words as being containers of power and they are! But the power that is behind our words comes from what is going on within our hearts. The character and nature of people causes them to speak what is in their hearts. The Pharisees refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus is saying that their character and nature was bad, not just the words that came out of their mouths. They needed a heart change and yet they rejected the very proof of Jesus being the Messiah, which was the works that He did through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The words that we speak arise from what is within our hearts. In order for our hearts to be pure we must have a “heart change”. That comes initially as we allow the Holy Spirit to woo us to Jesus so we can accept Him as Savior and Lord. Then as we yield to the Holy Spirit within us He develops His character and nature within us. Jesus spoke of the fruit of the Pharisees as being evil because their hearts were evil. The fruit of their mouths came from the fruit that was in their heart. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-26 that when the Holy Spirit controls our lives we will display His fruit from a heart in which He resides.
Galatians 5:22-26 NLT But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.
The Pharisees were under the control of the evil one. They had not had the heart transplant that Jesus came to give them. The fruit that they displayed was simply the character and nature of the evil one who controlled them. If a person does not have a heart change he/she will continue to live out of the evil that is within his/her heart. The fruit changes when the Holy Spirit comes in with His character and nature and sets up residence within the person’s heart at salvation. Now, notice that the change is not an immediate change. The person’s spirit is immediately changed and he becomes a new person, but the manifestation of his new nature comes little by little as he/she yields to the control of the Holy Spirit and resists the desire to act out of his/her old unregenerate heart’s nature that he/she will begin to reflect the new nature. We must choose to speak and act through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit within for our words and actions to reflect His character and nature. He changes us little by little as we yield our lives to Him.
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
The Psalmist said that there were two areas that he wanted to be acceptable to God in his life; his heart and his mouth. He wanted the meditation of his heart to be right so that the words that he spoke would reflect the good that was in his heart. What he meditated on in his heart would determine what he spoke. It is the same with us today. What we meditate on is going to come out our mouths. Jesus, after admonishing the Pharisees for the evil that was coming out of their hearts through their mouths, went on to say that people would be judged for every idle word that came out of their mouths.
Matthew 12:36, 37 NKJV “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.”
What is an idle word? The Greek word for “idle” in this verse is the word “argos”. Strong’s Concordance gives its meaning as being barren, idle, slow and implies that it is a lazy, or useless word. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words says its use in Matthew 12:36 gives the definition as being an ineffective or worthless word.
Jesus took the meaning of our words to a whole new level in these two verses. He went from telling of a person speaking out of their unregenerate character and nature to a person who speaks words that are barren, unproductive, and worthless. He broadens the subject matter by saying at the beginning of verse 36, “But I say to you”; that changes the thought from what’s coming out of our mouths as being that of our heart condition to that of a choice that we make regarding our words.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
The tongue, when speaking from what is in the heart, carries either death or life in its power. When we speak to people we can either build them up or tear them down. Our tongues produce the fruit of what is in our hearts. Hurting people hurt others by their speech and actions that arise from the hurt that is within their hearts. Whatever is down on the inside of a person will eventually come out their mouths and be reflected in their actions.
James 3:8-12 NKJV But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought now to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
James says here the same thing that Jesus was saying: that hateful words proceed from the poison that is within the heart. When we bless God one minute and turn around and speak evil about a brother or sister in Christ we are speaking both sweet and bitter words and that shouldn’t happen. Even nature shows that the fruit of a tree is the proof of what kind of tree it is. So, our mouths reflect the truth of our nature. We need the Holy Spirit to change us to reflect His character and nature instead of the nature of our old unregenerate heart.
Father, I thank You for changing us as we yield to Your Spirit within us. I pray this morning that those who don’t know Jesus will give their hearts to Him as their Savior and Lord today before their time on earth may be over. Father, draw them by Your Spirit and convict their hearts of their need for Him to be their own personal Savior and Lord. Father, for those of us who know You, who have been born again through receiving Jesus into our hearts, I ask that You would change our character and nature to reflect that of Your Spirit within us. I pray that we each will yield to His working in our hearts to change us to reflect the new heart that You have given us through the words that we speak and the actions that we take. Father, cleanse our hearts and cause us to think before we speak. Cause us to meditate on Your word so we can get within us the power of Your Words in our hearts. Father, open the eyes of our understanding to see that we reflect who has control of us through the words that we speak. May our words be edifying and uplifting, seasoned with grace and salt that we may be a blessing to those around us. Thank You, Father, for hearing my requests this morning. I believe I receive the petitions that I’ve asked of You, In Jesus’ name. Amen.