In Matthew chapter 12, Jesus illustrates spiritual realities through the natural world that apply to us as humans. Fruit trees require great care and attention to produce good fruit. The same is true for us – the words we speak reflect the condition we have cultivated in our hearts. Jesus condemns the religious leaders (the Pharisees) as having hearts full of jealousy, religion and legalism. Yet what is being stored up in our own hearts? We must pass along the grace, the unmerited forgiveness and favor, that Jesus has poured out unsparingly on us. Jesus also says that he will judge us for the words we have spoken. So, how do we speak grace to an unforgiving world? Jesus says: “Love your enemies. … Bless those who curse you.” These are hard things to do. Yet if we repent and bring the sin in our lives to Jesus, He will send the Holy Spirit to inhabit our words and transform our hearts.
Seek First: Speak Grace; The Power of our Words (Matt 12:33-37)
Verse 33 Notice Jesus says make the tree good. That’s how it’s worded in the Greek
• Good fruit trees don’t happen on their own, they take a lot work.
• Jesus is leading us into the fact that caring for our insides, our hearts, is also work.
Verse 34 Jesus is talking to a group of critics, the Pharisees.
• They have just accused Him of driving out demons with demons after Jesus delivered a man from a demon.
o Jesus is calling out the condition of their heart.
• But condition of their heart was really based on the fact that they did not know or had experienced grace.
o Their hearts were only full of religion and legalism.
Verse 35 Almost all English translations say, “bring forth,” or “bring up.”
• But the verb usually had more of a violent sense to it.
o In fact, it’s first meaning in a dictionary is “to cast out” as in demons.
• Jesus is no doubt setting a deliberate contrast here.
• Notice Jesus also says, “the evil stored up in them.”
o If the evil we encounter and face is not dealt with, it stores up in us.
o See Psalms 109:17-18 as an example
Verse 36 Jesus now says we will be held to account for what we say.
• So, watching our words is a way we can begin to ask the question what are we storing up in us?
o Using our tongue as thermometer to see how we are doing.
• The word “empty:” Some translations use idle, or carless.
• The word Greek means: Lazy, free from labor, shunning labor which one ought to perform, unemployed, idle, ineffective, useless
• One commentator suggested that ineffective was the best way to render the word in this verse.
Verse 37 Jesus says He will use our own words against us or for us.
• So, I ask myself the question, how do I want Jesus to judge me?
o I want Him to judge me with grace.
o So, I better work to be effective in speaking grace.
Some might complain, “But what if I have been wronged?”
Luke 6:27 The verb to bless here means to speak with blessing
o This a different word than the verb to bless that we looked at last week.
o It’s actually where we get our English word Eulogy.
• To pray means to use our words for their benefit before God.
• So even when we have been wronged, we are to use our words effectively and with grace.
How should we speak? Eph 5:19-20, Hebrews 3:13