Matthew 12:36 (Rambling On)

Rambling On

And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. (Matthew 12:36)

Read: Genesis 37:1-38:30, Matthew 12:22-45, Psalm 16:1-11, Proverbs 3:27-32

Relate: I love to talk. I know, I know, that might come as a surprise to some of you but… well, actually it probably won’t. Sometimes I get talking, and I keep talking, and I keep talking. It can even get to the point where even I have no idea what I’m even saying. As I’m talking along I’ll start to listen to myself. Sometimes I’ll even surprise myself and I’ll be like, “whoa, where on earth did that come from?” Sometimes I’ll listen to other people as they start to ramble on and I’ll think to myself, “Is that what I sound like? Does everybody tune me out like I’ve tuned this guy out? Will he ever shut up?”

Be honest. You know you’ve thought the same things. Please tell me that I am not the only one to ramble. Jesus says here that we will have to give an account and be judged for every idle word that comes out of our mouth. The scary part of that is that heaven is for eternity. We’ll all end up stuck there for millennia at the judgment having to listen to everything everybody throughout history has rambled on and on about. At first I thought that might be amusing but most likely we’ll all be bored out of our minds. Or perhaps maybe not. Perhaps all that rambling will be the the soundtrack that will be playing in hell. I can only imagine. (Yes, that MercyMe reference was intentional)

React: Thomas Merton was a well educated and well traveled man. Born in France, he’d lived in England, Rome, and America and had graduated from Cambridge and Columbia. He was a natural leader. And for the last 24 years of his life he lived under a vow of silence. He wrote: “If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything, never become anything, and in the end, because we have said everything before we had anything to say, we shall be left speechless at the moment of our greatest decision.”

Is there a filter between my thoughts and my words or am I just wasting my life away, rambling on?


Today, God, help me to shut up and listen…

23 thoughts on “Matthew 12:36 (Rambling On)

  1. You are most definitely not alone. Left to myself, I’m not much of a talker in large groups of casual acquaintances but definitely tend to talk too much when I feel pressure to participate in discussion or when I’m feeling super comfy.
    And yeah, when the complete realization hits that regarding what I just let flow out of my mouth, I can feel pretty foolish.

    Today, God, help me to shut up and listen…


  2. Honestly i wince every time i remember Matt 23:36..cos i’m guilty guilty guilty!!

    I try to console myself by saying that now that i’m a teacher/evangelist, its all worked out for good…but the flip side of the coin is that it affects consecration…

    Lord help me

  3. The verse referenced here, Matt. 12:36, “you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak”… while I was still a Christian, that verse bothered me in a couple of ways. First, the obvious is that it’s literally saying we have to give a reason or explain ourselves for the things we’ve said. And that certainly sounds scary. But what really bothered me is the notion that any of us would actually remember the millions of things we’ve said to others during our lifetime! Or that we’d remember what we were thinking at the time! It’s rather ridiculous when you contemplate it it. But then the rationalizations would kick in… “oh, the Lord will *help us* remember it all”. Um, why? So he can rub our noses in it like we do with dogs who took a dump in the house?

    • You’re looking at it sideways. It isn’t so much that God is going to sit there like a cruel uncaring taskmaster ready to take us to task for everything that dribbled out of our mouth. Instead we are going to see and understand the immense impact even the idle words spoken in carelessness had on our world for good or for ill. Even what is said in idleness can and does have immense significance and should cause us to a)shut up and listen more and b)be more aware and careful with what we are saying.

      • Thanks, that is a nice interpretation, and I would imagine Christians would find it comforting. But the verse says, “you must give an account… for every idle word you speak”. That’s pretty clear. And it continues with, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned”, and I suspect that anyone who has appeared before a judge can relate to what is meant there. A judge will often tell the person accused, “what say you? What is your story?”, and no doubt that those who heard Jesus would have taken that exact meaning.

        I should add that, I no longer believe the message of the Bible, but I used to be a Christian who was a sincere student, and verses from books like Matthew 12 included many difficult and hard-to-hear things that I think get re-interpreted by the church into warm and fuzzy messages. But I don’t think such interpretations are honest or true to the text.

        • Thanks for responding and I appreciate your willingness to read and respond even though you do not consider yourself a Christian.

          I would say that I don’t the interpretation I just shared could be considered very warm and fuzzy. Perhaps you’ve done a bit better but I know there’s a lot that I have said without even thinking that is judgmental, harsh and cruel. When the true impact of the idle and thoughtless words I’ve said are revealed, how can I do anything but weep and admit that I am guilty. Outside of the grace of God, I do not stand a chance. None of us do.

  4. Thanks, but the Bible is just too contradictory within its pages. If we interpret Matt. 12 that God wants to have us see how our idle words caused harm and/or hurt others, that would cause any normal person to cry and weep (as you said), and yet the New Testament says there are no tears in heaven. The whole thing is also in contrast to the notion that Jesus “paid our debt in full” and that we are viewed as if we’d never sinned, and/or that Christians have “the righteousness of Christ” before the Father. So again, why would God then want to rub our noses into the past?

    All of this is perhaps a minor contradiction from the Bible, but when you honestly start looking for them, they are all over the place (hence the 1,000’s of denominations in existence).

  5. Hi BJ,
    Your discussion with Logan has been interesting and I hope it’s okay to pop back in with an observation that the context of Matthew 12 is essential to understanding Jesus’ statement about our words. Jesus was reminding the religious hypocrites of His day that resurrection and judgment are universal–regardless of whether we believe that He is the one God anointed to save us from an eternal state of spiritual/physical death.On either side of this caution He spoke of the unforgivable nature of rejection of the Holy Spirit’s testimony and of the essential need for His occupancy in an individual’s soul.

    I believe that Jesus was making a point to His audience that we all will be called to account…and that we all need Him to mediate, because there isn’t any other acceptable option.

  6. I really like that quote by Merton. I’m not usually one to talk incessantly, I leave that up to my husband… but when I’ve gotten together with a friend on a one-to-one basis, yep, I’ve gone on and on about trivial matters and have said things I shouldn’t have. I prefer listening to the silence or sounds of nature. And yeah, I’ve noticed a lot of people (seems like it’s men mostly) who just love to hear the sound of their voices. I’ll stop on that thought.

  7. O B.J. I can’t stop my joyful laughter! I thought I was the only one with such malady! But, look, take comfort, think of our Savior sitting on that stone and saying 3 long chapters without a break. And then you have our brother Paul, he talked & talked to the point that the young boy on the balcony went to sleep and fell dead on the ground and what good old Paul did? He went down there, raised the boy from the dead and came back and talked for the rest of the night! Now, that’s what I do! Nothing can interfere with my rambling! I wait when they get out of their favorite get away from my rambling place–the bathroom!… they hide there for ever! but, soon as they venture out, O HalleluYah! Let me continue…until their next bathroom trip! Talking about persistency? there you have it! But take courage, Father got a very especial place about us ramblers in His service. Read that Malachi verse where He says we are His jewels! 🙂

  8. It is interesting that if we ponder the First and greatest commandment ….To Love God with all that is within us.. we will notice that the very first word was ”HEAR…!”

  9. That’s if you believe, in my view..

    If you don’t wake-up when you die,

    you become dark matter just floating in space…

    And remember not everybody wakes-up!

    i know for a fact that i do, anybody whom is in my blood line,

    i know of others whom will too…

    You just maybe dark matter, i my eyes that sucks…

    Because we evolve, higher plain of life..

    Ask a tibetan monk, we’ve talked about the very shit above or ask the pope what very first pope gave with ancient writing.. Stating “?” i won’t tell you! You must look into it yourself…



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