We live in a society where the quantity of words is more common than the quality of them. “Talk is cheap” and “Actions speak louder than words” are common phrases. And while these have some merit in the right context, it is of great importance we do not undermine the value of speech.
God places eternal authority on value of words, Christ himself is referred to as “the Word” in John 1:14. And he put great emphasis on the quality of our words throughout his ministry. In Matthew 15:18 he warns, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean.” This admonition is continued in the book of James regarding speech, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26). Christ also confirmed the eternal existence of God’s word in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.”
But it isn’t enough to just not say ungodly things, we need to replace them with edifying speech; “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20). Because God will examine the quality of our speech, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37).