If you are a college football fan, you have likely heard your fill of coverage about Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini. Two years ago, before giving a post-game interview following a victory over Ohio State, he had a very frank, foul discussion with the Nebraska play-by-play man. Somehow, someone recorded the whole thing. In the candid, clandestine rant, laced with profanity, Pelini denounced Cornhusker fans who roundly criticized him for the team’s blowout loss the previous week. A sport’s website released the raunchy rant earlier this week. Words like “alienation,” “irreparable damage,” and “classless” easily come to mind, describing the coach’s mini-meltdown.
Yet, if it had not been recorded, nobody would have known, right? Wrong! The three other men in the room would have known, but that is not who I mean. What we can often forget, as we lose our grip on self-control and sin with our tongues, is that there is One who is always listening. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mat. 12:36-37). Jesus does not specify the type words, except to call them “careless.” He speaks in terms of totality (“every”), the ultimate test of our words (“they shall give an accounting…”), and the temper of those words–either justifying or condemning us.
We may seek to project something publicly about the type and temper of our words only to reveal something else when we think only one or a few can hear them. The tongue is fiery (Js. 3:6) and tameless (Js. 3:8), whether the ignition and wreckage is public or private knowledge in this life. Jesus warns that we cannot get away with a lifestyle of loose, lewd lips. It will catch up with us. It may not cost us a high profile job, as it probably will Pelini. But, as Jesus says, it may cost us infinitely and eternally more!