What we may need to be reminded of is that we will be held to account for our words—for all our words. There will be a reckoning not only for the words we intentionally used poorly or that we deliberately used to hurt others, but also for the words we used carelessly. We will be responsible before God for not only what was fully malicious, but also for what was merely negligent, apathetic, irresponsible, reckless, or impetuous.
A technician for an airline neglected to check the logs from previous flights and therefore failed to take action on a control problem that had recurred multiple times over the past days. His carelessness was one of the factors that led to the plane crashing on a subsequent flight.
An engineer failed to set the brakes on parked tanker cars which soon begin to roll of their own accord until, out of control, they skipped the tracks and exploded. His carelessness led to widespread death and destruction.
A truck driver became distracted by a problem with his trailer, failed to notice a stop sign, and sailed through an intersection at high speed, putting it immediately in the path of a fast-moving bus. His carelessness claimed the lives of many passengers and earned him a long sentence in prison.
Each of these people was called upon to account for his carelessness, for his neglect, and for all the devastation that came from it. And rightly so, for carelessness is no small matter. Carelessness is a moral issue that can have severe consequences.
Carelessness was on Jesus’ mind on a day when the religious authorities confronted him about his failure to keep their interpretation of the religious law. He remarked that their words were evil because their hearts were evil. “How can you speak good, when you are evil?” he asked.