Our scripture this morning is Matthew 12:33-37.
“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood 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 things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
In this passage Jesus speaks to the Pharisees (and us) about what we say and what is in our hearts. He warns that we are responsible for our words as well as our actions. This is why He calls us to “change our hearts and lives” (Matthew 4:17) in order to be saved.
Jesus teaches that if we have evil in our hearts we can’t act out of love. We can however admit our wrongdoing, repent and follow Him to change our hearts and lives as He said. In John 3:1 we begin the story of Nicodemus, a Pharisee who came to Jesus seeking answers. Jesus tells him we must be “born again” (John 3:3) and receive the Holy Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. While Nicodemus remained a Pharisee, we hear that he was one who helped prepare the body of Jesus for burial after the Crucifixion (John 19:39).
We can’t be saved without accepting Christ as our savior and changing our hearts and lives. He tells us “you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak” (v. 36), reminding us that we will be held accountable for the things we say. While actions speak louder than words, God knows everything we do and say, and we must turn from our former behavior and speech in order to be born again.
Loving Lord, in Your mercy You sent Jesus to teach and love and save us. Help us to give up earthly things and be made new, sharing the joy of our connection to You with all the world. Amen.