“It was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment . . . But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:21, 22).
In this curious passage, Jesus links murder with name-calling. This puzzled me, until I remembered something I did a long time ago.
I had a friend who was being courted by someone on another island. This person wrote my friend regularly, and, once in a while, would come to Manila. They had wonderful times together.
Unfortunately, neighbors sent word to me that the guy courting my friend had a drug problem. I told my friend what I had heard.
Later, I found out that the people who told me this story had been having problems themselves. In fact, the husband of the family was a consummate liar. I asked an acquaintance to investigate the drug rumors concerning my friend’s boyfriend. No evidence that he had used drugs was found.
My friend tells me that the relationship was over before I told her what the neighbors were saying, but I will always wonder, what if I had not said any thing?
Although murder refers to physically killing someone, speaking bad things against people can destroy them. We can damage a good reputation. We can ruin friendships. We can make it impossible for them to function socially.
Our words can cause incredible damage to someone’s character. Jesus links these kinds of words with murder.
Be careful what you say.
Kimberly Snider is a missionary to the Philippines.
From “Moments for Moms,” a free email subscription.
Copyright (c) 2003 Women’s Ministries of the Assemblies of God.