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“Words can kill!” - Did Jesus really say that?

VBS – High Seas Expedition – Exploring the Mighty Love of God

Summer in the Son Prayer Cards

Team Haiti update

Hey Dads, Happy Father’s Day! (“In his shoes” video clip)    

Dads, if you didn’t know before, I pray you do now.  You are so very important in the life of your child.  So important we decided to give you a free pastry today.  Obviously you are more valuable that a pastry but we’re on a “budget” here. 

Speaking of Dads and parenting I became aware of Dr. Meg Meeker through my wife Tricia.  Dr. Meeker is a pediatrician[i] and has written at least two books - Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters and Boys Should Be Boys.  In her book Boys Should Be Boys she devotes an entire chapter to “The Difference a Dad Makes.”   I would guess that most here today would agree that Mom’s and Dad’s should love both their daughters and sons equally.  But there’s no denying the influence a mother has on her daughter and the influence a father has on his son.  Dr. Meeker writes, “In his son’s eyes, his father is the source of all correct answers.  He knows what’s going to happen next.  He is smarter, stronger, and tougher than the rest.  A boy’s world is shaped by how his father responds to those around him.  Fathers are the authorities.  They set rules, because they know the rules.  Dads are also protectors.  A father is a son’s hope.  The future will be better, safer, more fun, because Dad can make bad things disappear.  Monsters flee from beneath beds, harsh words from a soccer coach sting a lot less when Dad can tell a son about his own days as a failed soccer player and Dad can tell him convincingly that girlfriends who cheated on him weren’t right for him anyway.

What does a son need from a father?  He needs three things.  First, a boy needs his father’s blessing.  The question for every boy is: am I good enough?  But not good enough for just anyone.  Am I good enough for my Dad?[ii]  Second, a son needs love from his father.  Love to a kid is spelled TIME/AFFECTION and ENDURANCE.[iii]  And third, a son needs his father to teach him self control.[iv]  Now I’m a Dad and when I read ALL THIS I see a daunting list.  How am I supposed to teach those things? Dads, if you want to be a good father then turn to your heavenly father.  Dads, if you want to be a good teacher turn to the master teacher and his name is JesusTurn in your Bibles today to Matthew 5:21.  I’m curious.  Is there a Dad here today and you’ don’t own a Bible.  We have one for you.  FREE!  As a matter of fact we have a Bible for anyone here today – just raise your hand!  Locate in your Bible Matthew 5:21 and when you do you’ll see this section is entitled MURDER!  And you might conclude – “Greg, what does murder have to do with being a dad?”  If you don’t listen to me I’m going to kill you!  Let’s just say - more than what you think!

Before we read verse 21.  Let’s all be reminded again – there are no perfect people ON this planet or IN this room.  There are no perfect tweens, teens, young adults, adults which include spouses and certainly  parents. Jesus said it this way – read verse 21.  Today is the third week of a series called “Did Jesus really say that?” Did Jesus really say?  “Be tasty and shine?”  Yes, he did.  Did Jesus really say, “Measure up?”  Yes, he did.  And today Jesus says, “Words can kill!”  Now I bet you knew that or at least had heard that said before.  But to the people in Jesus day!  That was a whole new concept.  Words do not kill.  People kill!  All verses starting with today’s verse – verse 21 and going through verse 48 are the application of what Jesus said in verse 20!  Maybe it would be wise for us to review verse 20!  (Read vs. 20)  You’ve heard of the Village People” right.  You know YMCA – in Jesus day the Pharisees were known as the “spiritual people”  and their song was “I’m watching you!”  Jesus tells us point blank that he came to fulfill the law.  The Pharisees understood the law to mean this – it was external – you either do it or don’t do it.  So it you do not do it – then you must be guilt free.  Jesus says, “not so fast.”  Verse 21 is our first example.  Are you familiar with the 10 commandments found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5? 

Jesus is referencing Exodus 20:13.  The Pharisees looked at the law as rules to keep.  So if anyone has not murdered anyone physically then score one for me.  You see I can say to you without reservation – I have not killed anyone.  I am not just spiritual.  I am super spiritual!  Man, God must love me!  But Jesus teaches us the law goes much deeper than just obedience.  The law was intended to reveal our hearts.  You drove into the church parking lot this morning, right?  Can you imagine if you parked your car and as you were exiting your vehicle I walked up to you and said, “What are you doing?  That’s my parking spot.  Move your stupid car or I’ll bust you upside your head!”  Now honestly, Did I just commit murder?  NO, but did my words cross the line?  YES!  That’s Jesus’ point!  Look at verse 22.  When I read Jesus’ words I am reminded that James – Jesus’ half brother heard Jesus’ words too.  James said,  My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, [20] for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Dads, if you want to bless your children.  Then ruthlessly remove angry feelings from your life and heart!  An angry heart is a downward spiral - a slippery slope.  Rarely does a murder occur in this world where anger is not involved.  “I’m so happy with you I’m going to  take your life!”  Typically people murder because they do not get what they want.  And their anger spurs them to do the unthinkable.  But before they do the unthinkable this happens.  Look at the rest of verse 22

Angry people struggle with their words.  They often spew insults – verbal insults.  Jesus gives us one.  “Raca.”  My Bible has a footnote by the word “Raca.”  It reads “an Aramaic term of contempt.”  Raca literally means “empty-headed![v]”  Hey, you empty head – you cut me off back there.  Hey you fool, idiot, jerk, and something related to a donkey’s backside.  And don’t call someone a “bird brain.”  Birds are smarter than what you think.  Bill Dougherty of Fredericksburg, VA kept losing money Magic Wand self serve car wash.  So he set up a surveillance camera.  Here’s what he found.[vi]    Birds are not stupid and when we say to a person, BIRD BRAIN – IDIOT – MORON - words can kill!  We did not physically hurt them, but our words dug deep!

Dads, God’s word is truly amazing!  If you watch your words you will do at least three things.  You will bless your children.  You will affirm them.  Your words will enable them to feel loved.  And your words will demonstrate self control.  But Greg, I have a problem.  My words haven’t always been kind.  Neither have mine, which is why we all need a Savior!  Let’s take communion right now.  Ushers would you go now and help prepare us to commune before God!  Would you say softly right now, “Jesus forgive me for hurting people with my words!” 

Jesus offers a “Therefore” in verse 23.  If you are in need of an example – “what do I do to stop these angry feelings” - Jesus’ gives us two.  (Read verse 23a & 25a)  Two people – one is a friend and the other is an enemy.  One is in the temple and the other is on the way to court.  Now here’s how brilliant Jesus is.  Think of the last time you were angry.  We are most often angry with people because of what they did to us.  But Jesus wants us to go beyond that.  Look again at verse 23 and 25.  We remember – you did this to me, but we often forget what we do to others.  The answer for both your friend and your enemy is "be reconciled!" 

            Now maybe that’s not what you wanted to hear.  Because I have felt in my heart, seen in movies and actually heard from adults growing up that the best way to get rid of angry feelings is to just let them out.  Because if I yell or hit or seek revenge – I’ll feel better!  BUT THAT’S NOT TRUE!  Just the opposite happens.  Jesus gives us the better answer – reconcile!  Do your best to be at peace with those you’ve offended.  And whether that person is a brother or sister at church or an enemy on the way to court do all that you can to make peace.  Paul said in Romans 12:18:  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do what you can.  Speak the truth in love, offer an apology, say you are sorry, lose pride, lose your rights, lose money if need be.  Relationships often show God whether or not we really love him.  A story appeared in Dear Abby back in the 90’s.  It goes something like this:  A young man from a wealthy family was about to graduate from high school. It was the custom in that affluent neighborhood for the parents to give the graduate an automobile. 'Bill' and his father had spent months looking at cars, and the week before graduation they found the perfect car. Bill was certain that the car would be his on graduation night.

Imagine his disappointment when, on the eve of his graduation, Bill's father handed him a gift-wrapped Bible! Bill was so angry, he threw the Bible down and stormed out of the house. He and his father never saw each other again. It was the news of his father's death that brought Bill home again.  As he sat one night, going through his father's stuff; he came across the Bible his father had given him. He brushed away the dust and opened it to find a cashier's check, dated the day of his graduation - the exact amount needed to purchase the car they had chosen together.[vii]
            What a joke.  First, BILL is a spoiled brat.  And that Dad needs to be slightly more proactive.  Go after him.  My goodness he’s your son.  And use words.  “Bill, my responsibility as your father is to teach you that stuff doesn’t satisfy.  Apparently I did not do a real good job on that, but hear me now.  What’s most important in life can’t be purchased.  What’s most important is what we do with God and people.”

I believe the goal of parenting is to take a child who is dependant on you and teach them to become dependent on God!  To help your child “find the Father’s path.”  And the best way to do that is to walk that path with them together. 

Now think with me right now – have I offended anyone?  Did I offend someone at church?  Did I offend someone at work?  If you have - try your best – using actions and words – to make it right!


[i] Meg Meeker, Boys Should Be Boys, 147

[ii] Meg Meeker, Boys Should Be Boys, 149

[iii] Meg Meeker, Boys Should Be Boys, 157-59

[iv] Meg Meeker, Boys Should Be Boys, 147-148

[v] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1131


[vii] Abby, Rocky Mountain News, 2 September 1992, 55.

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