36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” –Matthew 12:36-37
“I’m sorry,” Saint Peter said, “but it’s judgement time.” He stood at the counter, there in the clouds, and flipped open a giant book.
The blood ran from my face.
“Really?” I asked. “Can I quiz out or something? I was a pastor…”
“Pastors?” He rolled his eyes. “Always the worst.” He pointed at the sign behind him. “Okay. We start with your words. See where it says ‘every empty word’?” He looked at the scripture and then me with an amused expression on his face. “Do you know that your average twenty-minute sermon,” he checked his books, “could have been reduced to six minutes of actual substance? Six!”
“Well I try to –”
“I know, I know.” He waved a hand. “You all try. Not every sermon can bring thousands to the faith.” He scanned down the page and frowned. “But what about all these other empty words?”
“What other words?” I put my sweaty hands on the marble counter. Behind Peter, I could see the pearly gates.
“Oh, let’s see.” He said in a sing song voice. “I count,” he punched some numbers into a calculator, “6710 uses of the ‘F’-word.”
“What?” I exploded. “That can’t be possible–”
“As for the ‘S’-word”, Peter ignored me, eyes growing wide, “11422. Impressive!” I looked down.
“I’m sure most of those were in college,” I weakly mumbled.
“And here’s a big one,” Peter continued, “The number of uses of “G-D…” He tapped a moment, and looked across at me. “33.” He nodded. “I see you set some boundaries for yourself.”
“Yessir,” I stammered. “That one always seemed really disrespectful.”
“Well they’re all disrespectful to an extent. Simply throwing out empty words, or weighty words like G-D or the “N” word can run the range of cheapening a conversation to actually conveying hate and evil.” He whispered, “God’s not a fan of any of it.”
“I’m sorry.” I said, feeling the clouds closing in.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Peter smiled. “Jesus’ death and resurrection wasn’t just to forgive us our actions, but our words as well.” He closed his book. “And as it turns out, it’s not your time yet. You get to go back.”
“I, what?” I was thrilled, but also disappointed to be this close to Heaven and not get to go in.
“And Mitch?” Peter looked right at me. “Watch your mouth.”
I woke up in my own bed, glad to be alive. Can I tell you that I’ve never muttered a curse word since?
it’s only been 7 minutes.
Have a great week,
BAREFOOT! A collection of my favorite devotions from over the years, complete with study questions. Perfect for individual reflection or group discussion. Get yours on Amazon!
barefoot.: devotions & discussions by Rev. Mitch Todd Paperback