But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  (Mt 5:22 NIV)

The sixth commandment from the Lord states:   You shall not murder.  (Ex 5:17 NIV)  This command also includes our thoughts and words, including emotions of unrighteous anger and damaging insults. 

Raca is an informal expression of contempt for a person’s mental ability, similar to “dope” or “witless.”  To call someone a fool is a way to show disrespect and scorn for a person’s character.  Both negative words in this verse suggest that the person being criticized should be doomed for eternity.

Our words proceed from the thoughts that we have hidden within us, as the Bible reminds us. 

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  (Lk 6:45c NIV)

Here again, we need to guide our lives by what the Lord teaches us.  But God considers critical words to be “corrupting,” and He instructs us to speak things that will encourage others and bless all who hear our conversation.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  (Eph 4:29 ESV)

Another aspect of calling other people condemning names is that notion that in some way, we have judged the person or persons and have found them wanting.  How can we criticize another person who has been created in the image of God?

But God is aware of our words.  His advice is clear:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  (Mt 7:1 NIV)

I tell you that people will have to answer on Judgment Day for every useless word they speak.  (Mt 12:36 CEB)

Don’t misunderstand me.  What I’ve been describing is all too human and something that we all fall prey to from time to time.  But this is our reminder to guard our thoughts diligently so that our words will be kind and encouraging to others.  If we can’t speak something positive, then it’s best to say nothing at all!

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  (Jas 4:6 NASB)

The Lord gives us the ability [grace] to be at peace with all human beings.  He gives us the grace to forgive and to be kind. 

Let us ask the Lord for His grace for every situation and relationship in our lives.  God bless you!

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