Jesus said, “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36). The word “idle” in this passage suggests carelessness or thoughtlessness. The speakers may not have intended to cause harm, but should have known better than to say what they did. A little more caution and restraint could have prevented the damage.
Moses taught that “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). We can trust God’s words to be accurate, uplifting, and useful. We ought to try to emulate that intentionality in our own communication.
In an 1831 revelation, the Lord said:
Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit.Doctrine and Covenants 63:64
The most important topics deserve the most effort and consideration. We wouldn’t want to confuse or mislead others by treating things of importance as though they were unimportant. Hence we avoid speaking God’s name in casual contexts. We are likewise cautious when others have shared their deepest feelings with us, not to treat that information lightly.
King Benjamin told his people to watch their words (Mosiah 4:30). Alma said that, at the Final Judgment, “our words will condemn us” (Alma 12:14). Does this mean that it would be better simply not to talk? Perhaps sometimes. A proverb says, “He that hath knowledge spareth his words” (Proverbs 17:27), and the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “Let thy words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
But another proverb says, “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). And the Lord has commanded members of the church, “Open your mouths,” with the promise that, “they shall be filled” (Doctrine and Covenants 33:8-10). Furthermore, Nephi promised that, when we receive the Holy Ghost, we can “speak with the tongue of angels” (2 Nephi 31:13-14, 2 Nephi 32:2). Clearly, the goal is not to avoid talking altogether, but to recognize the power of our words and use them to do good.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail.“The Tongue of Angels,” General Conference, April 2007
Today, I will be careful with my words. I will remember the power for good or evil that words can have, and I will be intentional about speaking words that uplift and bless others.