The Power of Life and Death

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

Society has no shortage of disabilities, in fact, some probably shouldn’t be considered a disability. If we were to vote on which new limitations should be added to the list, I think I would have to put my vote in for saying stupid and hurtful things (the inability to control ones’ tongue).

So many people have taken on the role of being a victim they feel powerless to change their lives. I believe this applies to the taming the tongue as well. I know I made many bad decisions in my life and I have said many things I regret. The words we speak affect the lives of others, especially those that are close to us.

James 3:5-8
5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

All of our relationships have been affected by what has been said. We often remember many of the hurtful things that a friend, family member or spouse has said to us. Sometimes the words that were spoken create pain and doubt, but then there are times when the words were spoken create hope and love. The Bible says one of the signs of a mature Christian is having power over the tongue.

We all have issues controlling our tongue, and I think we can all look back on our lives and see the wake of destruction left behind. We often hurt those closest to us and say things that can never be taken back. It’s never too late to change, to harness the tongue and stop spewing venomous words all over the place. The tongue has the power to direct, destroy or delight. How are you going to use your power?

Words Have the Power

  • To build people up or tear them down
  • To soften hearts or harden hearts
  • To open minds or close them off
  • To push people away or bring them closer
  • To heal or wound
  • To lift spirits or crush sprits

The average words spoken per person per day is around 10,000. Consider how many people you have to interact with on a daily basis and the relationships that are important to you. I know that I want to be a positive influence in the lives of those around me. I also know that I make many mistakes and often have to apologize for what I have said and done. It can take time to rebuild trust and respect especially if we have gotten into the habit of tearing people down instead of building them up.

Let Your Words be True

Our society has a big problem with this concept. We can point our fingers at lying politicians, athletes, large corporations, actors, influential individuals but we are just as guilty. At least I am. If I were to do some self-reflection on how true my words are I know I would fall short.

Integrity = Living Truth

Let Your Words be Kind

How many times did you hear growing up, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all?” That’s the same advice we are currently passing to our children. So why do we talk down to our spouse the way we sometimes do? Is it because they are more forgiving? Probably not. Is it because they are supposed to love us unconditionally? Nope! It’s because we take them for granted and don’t think before we speak. If we continue to treat people poorly, they will distance themselves from us, including our spouse and children.

Proverbs 15
15 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
But the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere,
Keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

We need to take time to listen when others are speaking. When people are heard, they feel important and validated. When our words aren’t kind or true, we crush the spirits of those that look up to us, that love us and need us. We can choose what we are going to say if we take the time to think it over before saying it – quick to listen and slow to speak. It is okay to bite your tongue; we should probably do it more often. Surrender your tongue to God – no man can tame the tongue but God can. Lastly, be honest with your words and refuse to tear people down. Is your motive pure or is it motivated by anger, pain or selfishness?

Words play a critical role in our relationship with Jesus and others. They do have the power of life and death. I know I want to do better, say less and lift spirits. How about you?