Idle Words

To be idle is to be empty, worthless, useless, vain, vacant.Oxford English Dictionary Notably, idle is a word of unknown origin, meaning worthless. In Hebrew, to be idle is to be bad, the root of which is the basis of the name Belial, the Father of Lies, and it means wicked, utterly worthless, without redeeming quality.

“Words are the progeny of the soul.”—Clement of Alexandria

Idle words are a misuse of the spoken Word. Using idle words is both a soul taint and a sin, depending on how deliberate the use. Discretion is the discipline of not using idle words. The defining Christ law on vain speech is Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.—Matthew 12:36-37.

Edna Lister on Idle Words

Every day is the judgment day, and you are your own judge. You judge yourself by every word you utter, for each word you use places you in the scale of evolution. You are a radiant light, but shout loudest as a black blotch when not living your Christed heritage.—Edna Lister, January 11, 1933.

Use no more slang than you can help. The word goes forth and multiplies, so you should watch your idle words.—Edna Lister, The Spoken Word, January 27, 1933.

A shepherd divides his sheep from the goats, the good from the idle thoughts, emotions, and words.—Edna Lister, The Dividing Line, May 27, 1934.

See to it that your decrees stand the test of Power’s release, for every idle word goes forth in the ever greater degree of Power being released.—Edna Lister, November 14, 1938.

All your wriggling self-delusions, self-excuses, self-indulgences will not hide a single soul record, for each thought and word confronts you in heaven. You must confess them as yours on earth to wipe them out and make a full recompense to law.—Edna Lister, November 6, 1940.

The worst stumbling block to God’s progress is the unconquered self and unbridled tongues in the very midst of the Elect.—Edna Lister, March 10, 1941.

When God releases great Power, one idle remark carries more Power than days of words before. Power is always greater. Woe to him who turns to darkness after receiving so much.—Edna Lister, September 2, 1941.

Idle words about even small matters anchor you to the past and heartbreaking delay.—Edna Lister, August 12, 1945.

Covering others’ transgressions is a law. You may gain credits and receive more blame, but law permits no unjust words or attitudes.—Edna Lister, October 20, 1947.

The more Light-as-Power that God releases through you, the higher your destiny, the more destructive is a negative word. Consequently, the reprimand to the responsible soul who speaks one idle word is greater than to the soul who unconsciously speaks negatively all day.—Edna Lister, June 3, 1948.

It is good for your impulsive-appetitive soul when you must eat your idle words.—Edna Lister, To Seek the Light, June 10, 1951.

Apologize for negative words at once rather than to let them pile up.—Edna Lister, July 9, 1951.

Careless words indicate spiritual dry rot that can break out at any moment. The careless word you speak today has more Power than ten years’ worth of your prayers twenty years ago.—Edna Lister, December 18, 1952.

Catch and lift every negative word before it drags you down.—Edna Lister, October 27, 1953.

God wants everyone and everything back. We all have idle word creations to transform into perfection.—Edna Lister, June 6, 1954.

Everyone must lift and wipe out his idle words and misused substance. Erase your misused words instantly!—Edna Lister, I Ascend, July 11, 1954.

Using a sharp word will be impossible when you are the love of God.—Edna Lister, October 4, 1954.

Don’t waste your soul substance in idle words, which is a misuse of Power and reacts as force.—Edna Lister, November 21, 1954.

Gather the past week’s scattered parts, idle words, negative thoughts and actions, even words of truth, if spoken from self.—Edna Lister, July 31, 1955.

Idle words betray you, but they cannot change by themselves. Words follow a certain vibration and have no way of knowing that you do not mean them. They go out there, busily creating, gathering after their degree and kind, while you go on fooling yourself with more excuses.—Edna Lister, Miracles or Demonstration? September 4, 1955.

If I could wave a wand for you, it would forever bridle your unruly tongue, and no difficulty in life would remain. You would meet problems smoothly, lovingly, quietly in the love of God.—Edna Lister, November 21, 1956.

Bite your tongue! You will have no conversation for a while after you cut out your idle words.—Edna Lister, November 25, 1956.

The other fellow has already forgotten the words that hurt you most.—Edna Lister, November 26, 1956.

Someone must be accountable for all the idle words the world speaks. How else could God ascend Creation?—Edna Lister, April 4, 1957.

You are a creator, accountable for every word. The hardest to give up are facetious sayings. We all say witty negatives about life. I’m not interested in it. I don’t care about it. Your lightest thought creates more powerfully now than your worst words twenty years ago.—Edna Lister, May 29, 1957.

Idle words don’t convince anyone. State the law, and let God, as the reaction of law, convince them.—Edna Lister, June 28, 1957.

The vibration thins when millions of pressures impinge on your aura, and so many responsibilities are forced on you. Yet you may not use this to excuse idle words. Your words betray you, and so others can misinterpret your intentions.—Edna Lister, June 28, 1957.

Every idle word builds a false god. For instance, I’ll try makes procrastination a false god in your subconscious mind.—Edna Lister, September 30, 1957.

Unwise words have wrecked you in the past. Beware!—Edna Lister, November 8, 1958.

If you were to write all the idle words you spoke for a month, you would realize how you build a highway of unrighteous speech. "I didn’t mean it. I’ll try. I’m sorry. I’m tired. I’m dead. I’m bored. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m is a contraction of I AM, and with every such utterance, you clutter your mind, speech and the very atmosphere around you.—Edna Lister, God as All the Little Things, November 24, 1957.

Idle words are too often your own buried subconscious meanness surfacing. This is true, in king or peasant. It is common, vulgar and ignorant to spit such earth ugliness at anyone. Don’t put a fancy frame around it or paint over it by excusing yourself. Face it in all its ugliness, and put Light on it to wipe it out forever.
  Light can protect you from force, but not from your own words.—Edna Lister, November 28, 1957.

I don’t understand epitomizes a closed mind, and means you have hidden issues you do not want to uncover or give up.—Edna Lister, December 5, 1957.

Don’t excuse your idle words. You mean them or you wouldn’t have said them.—Edna Lister, Soul Integration, December 8, 1957.

When the Elect use no more idle words, when their faces are all turned to Light, we will conquer evil.
  You may use no idle words and the tonal quality of your voice must be perfect, with no whine of self-pity.—Edna Lister, December 19, 1957.

Idle words are your biggest obstacle to success. Remove I can’t and you find I’ll try still stands in your way. Stop trying and do! You will repeat the same old mistakes until you finally bite your tongue.—Edna Lister, As God Sees Me, June 8, 1958.

Everyone has a high degree of word action, all too often including idle words, our biggest waste of soul substance. Bite your tongue when irritated; otherwise, you pay the other fellow’s debts, too.—Edna Lister, As the World Sees Me, June 22, 1958.

Idle words are expensive.—Edna Lister, September 8, 1958.

If you allow the world to influence your thinking, you will use idle words. All your words circle the world, accumulate seven times their weight in similar substance and return with a good, hard blow.
  The more Light you carry, the more devastating your idle words.—Edna Lister, Brainwashing, Inc., October 19, 1958.

Idle words commit adultery with the truth. Irritation and impatience manifest in idle words.—Edna Lister, Ten Commandments and Beatitudes, November 4, 1958.

Too much I think leads to a swelled head and loss of vision when the emphasis is on I.—Edna Lister, December 15, 1958.

Banter is usually a collection of idle words and indicates dry rotted thinking that can break out at any moment.—Edna Lister, May 14, 1959.

The easiest way to misuse soul substance is by using idle words. People give away soul with every idle word they speak.—Edna Lister, Heaven as a State of Consciousness and as a Place, June 16, 1959.

All idle words, anything but Wisdom and Love, are your anchors. Speaking about the past recreates the past.—Edna Lister, June 28, 1959.

Every idle word anchors you to earth.—Edna Lister, June 29, 1959.

It is utter unconsciousness to spew idle words. To excuse yourself glorifies the subconscious while taking no responsibility for lifting self. Words you considered harmless have hurt others.—Edna Lister, October 5, 1959.

Idle words wander as orphans of darkness to touch and tear down people all over earth. Forceful words hurt others until you see and admit it—not I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it; words return for you to lift.
  Negative words are devastating because they enmesh the Master, qho IS the Word, who then must overcome your inadequacies.—Edna Lister, October 5, 1959.

Every word you speak has its apportioned share of Power, including your idle words. Ask yourself if misusing that Power is really what you want to do.—Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 27, 1959.

An evil word spoken on a high vibration can tear asunder all the lines of Light nearby. An idle word rips small tears wherever it is spoken. It takes many good words to mend and lift idle words.—Edna Lister, October 29, 1959.

The spoken word is your most valuable creative tool, and all your statements either build or destroy as blessings or curses. You are not fed by physical bread alone but by every word you speak. You feed yourself with every statement you make; it’s a travesty how so many people feed themselves a starvation diet of idle words.—Edna Lister, Tomorrow Is Yours, December 13, 1959.

How stupid you are to let the actions of another allow you to speak evil words. You did not do the act but you create the form on the inner by talking about it with idle words.—Edna Lister, What Is a Miracle? May 6, 1960.

Pay no attention to others’ idle words, for behind them is a great god of nothing.—Edna Lister, July 21, 1960.

Idle words are Antichrist declarations; never be Antichrist in thinking, imagination, or words.—Edna Lister, December 15, 1960.

I need rest are idle words, and you can rest yourself to death by using them. A pot stops boiling when you lift it from the burner. Don’t turn off the heat! Get hot under the collar about God, not outer things. Don’t let your vibration betray you.—Edna Lister, December 18, 1960.

The greatest of the world’s evils are lukewarmness, indifference, and idle words.—Edna Lister, December 29, 1960.

The law of perfect expression is Thou shalt not dash thy foot upon stones of idle words or criticism.—Edna Lister, January 6, 1961.

You wouldn’t curse another consciously, so don’t use idle words about him.—Edna Lister, January 15, 1961.

Avoid the chasm you dig with idle words, which lull your brain cells to sleep.—Edna Lister, Know That God Takes Charge, June 11, 1961.

You cannot fully ascend until you lift the life sparks enmeshed in your idle words.—Edna Lister, October 10, 1961.

In one breath, you can declare a perfect miracle and in the next fall into idle speculation, which has anchored many to earth. Each must clean up the jungle he created by diverting Power through wild speculation. Give up all idle words, guesses, doubts and fears.—Edna Lister, October 26, 1961.

Someday you will be untouchable to your negative creations. Every idle word is an instant challenge until you accept full responsibility for your idle word creations.—Edna Lister, April 2, 1962.

Under a Baptism by Fire, the Adept walks on hot coals. On the Via Christa, our idle words or deeds burn us.—Edna Lister, Heaven, a Place to Fill, April 10, 1962.

Your idle words go out with little safety pins to collect all others of the same degree and kind and return them all to you.—Edna Lister, August 9, 1962.

Your words betray your tendency to hold out and excuse self: "I’m just that way. You’ll have to take me as I am."—Edna Lister, February 27, 1963.

Idle words that do not express sovereignty of soul hinder you.—Edna Lister, June 10, 1963.

Don’t tempt another by using idle words, for you will owe his debt, too.—Edna Lister, August 15, 1963.

Trace each idle word to its source, an opinion or prejudice block to be lifted.—Edna Lister, December 2, 1963.

One idle statement or excuse weighs as much to push as all the planets rolled together in a great ball.—Edna Lister, June 28, 1964.

Do not cast your pearls before swine.—Matthew 7:6. Your pearl of great price is to rejoice, and declare good. Sell your disgruntlements, criticism, and idle words to buy a pearl of great price.—Edna Lister, December 14, 1964.

Never make an positively offensive statement such as, You’re wrong! You can say, It could be this, or, Let’s think about this. Do it inoffensively.—Edna Lister, December 10, 1965.

Don’t permit even one idle word or thought, because it takes time to plug the hole from within.—Edna Lister, February 12, 1966.

Watch your idle words about the past, personalities, and life. Strain them from your conversation.—Edna Lister, September 8, 1966.

Never condemn another’s misuse of words. If you must rebuke them, go to the altar in prayer as soon as you can.—Edna Lister, September 14, 1967.

Gossip is using idle words to recreate past incidents. Don’t recreate the past or you build spiritual debt for yourself and a double debt for the one who started it.—Edna Lister, The Heavenly Mysteries Unveiled, October 20, 1968.

All your problems and difficulties come from your refusal to accept and assume your full responsibility for every word you speak. Every word you use in thinking and in speech, creates after its own kind. When you think or speak in terms of illness or lack, you are creating more illness and more lack. Your statements and declarations may be perfect, exactly what you want, but a few silly idle words, such as Nothing works for me, or Maybe having it isn’t right for me to have it, can cut down every line faith has established direct to the Source of all Light. You must build up the lines of Light again each time. Your idle words are the main cause of all delay in your life.—Edna Lister, Let There Be Light, March 16, 1969.

You repudiate God when you dwell on the nots and can’ts.—Edna Lister, Light on the Path, July 6, 1969.

Pay no attention to what people say. When someone spends the Light of God in idle words, accept it as the Light, send it back to God, and it cannot touch you.—Edna Lister, The Path of Destiny, June 13, 1971.

When you love God enough, you do not use idle words.—Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1933-1971.

Repeating negative words creates greater waves of misuse than the original generated.—Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1933-1971.

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A Treatment for Idle Words

I forgot. I don’t remember, I’ll try, I can’t, I won’t are all idle words you must eat. I won’t challenges the subconscious mind. I didn’t mean it is the greatest curse today. Don’t let one idle word get by without saying, Please erase this taint and let the record be wiped clean.—Edna Lister, March 19, 1962.

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New Testament on Idle Words

The Word: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.—John 1:1-5.

I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.—Matthew 12:36-37.

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man … For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.—Matthew 15:11,17-20.

Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. ... Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man.—Mark 7:14-15,18-23.

Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.—James 3:3-10.

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Old Testament on Idle Words

Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.—Proverbs 6:2.

A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; he winks with his eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points with his fingers; perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord.—Proverbs 6:12-15.

Six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.—Proverbs 6:16-19.

Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. He who restrains his lips is wise.—Proverbs 10:18-19.

The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips.—Proverbs 12:13.

He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.—Proverbs 13:3.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.—Proverbs 15:1.

Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right.—Proverbs 16:13.

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.– Proverbs 17:27-28.

A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.—Proverbs 18:6-7.

The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.—Proverbs 18:8 and Proverbs 26:22.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.—Proverbs 18:21.

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.—Proverbs 21:23.

Whoever falsely boasts of giving is like clouds and wind without rain.—Proverbs 25:14.

Burning lips with a wicked heart are like earthenware covered with silver dross.—Proverbs 26:23.

He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; when he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.—Proverbs 26:24-26.

A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.—Proverbs 26:28.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth.—Proverbs 27:1-2.

A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.—Proverbs 29:5.

If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs; there is no peace.—Proverbs 29:9.

A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.—Proverbs 29:11.

There is more hope for a fool than for a man hasty in his words.—Proverbs 29:20.

An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.—Proverbs 29:22.

Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God; let your words be few. A fool’s voice is known by his many words.—Ecclesiastes 5:2-3.

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Idle Words in Other Sacred Writings

Beware of murmuring, which is unprofitable; and refrain from backbiting: for no word is so secret that it shall go for nought: and the mouth that lies slays the soul.—Wisdom of Solomon 1:11.

Do not rise up in anger at the presence of an injurious person, lest he lie in wait to entrap you in your words.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 8:11.

If you have heard a word [gossip], let it die with you.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 19:10.

He who uses many words shall be abhorred.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 20:8.

Use not your mouth to intemperate swearing, for therein is the word of sin.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 23:13.

The man that is accustomed to damning words will never be reformed all the days of his life.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 23:15.

Weigh your words in a balance, and make a door and bar for your mouth.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 28:25.

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Edna Miriam Lister
The original Pioneering Mystic,
Christian Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of idle: Old English idel, "empty, void, useless," Old Frisian idel "empty, worthless," of unknown origin.

Using idle words reveals a soul soul taint.

Using idle words is a sin.


Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, ed. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Related Topics

Boasting and Bragging
Complaints and Whining
Lies and Lying