The Eternal Significance of a Single Little Word

I can’t help but wonder how that “nay” will sound before the throne.

There will be no protection for the most vulnerable. There have been many reactions to this bill’s defeat, and they span almost the full range of human emotion. What is delightful to one is agonizing to another. What is an occasion of deep sorrow for some is a cause of celebration for others. I, like so many Christians, am both grieved and outraged. But I am also … is it chilled? I find myself reflecting on those 44 people who chose to speak that one word, that one calculated word, to defeat this bill.


Jesus tells us—in fact, he solemnly warns us—that our words matter. Every single word we speak has significance. “I tell you,” he says, “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). Not most of those careless words. Not some of those careless words. All of them. This is a terrifying thought for those of us who are prone to speak often, speak hastily, or speak harshly. It calls us to repent, then to guard our mouths and, equally, to guard our hearts, for it is out of the abundance or overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. Just like vomit reveals the contents of our sickened stomachs, our words reveal the contents of our sinful hearts.

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