Written by Pastor Andrew Moroz
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Proverbs 18:21
“…the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.” – James 3:5
God has been graciously reminding me about the power of the tongue and about my shortcoming when I’m casual with my words. Words have the power to bring life and they also have the power to bring pain, and even death. With that in mind, how are my words (and yours) affecting the people that God has brought into our lives?
While the tongue cannot be tamed (James 3:8), I think self-awareness and gospel motivated discernment can help us use our tongue more effectively. If we want our words to bring healing and transformation in lives of others, then we must follow the wisdom of Proverbs.
Our words will either help our family, friends, and neighbors flourish or they will leave a trail of destruction.
- Proverbs 11:11 “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.”
Scoffers (mockers) – those who use their words to ridicule – will destroy relationships and will not enjoy the benefits of community.
- Proverbs 22:10 “Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.”
Does that mean that we never say anything critical or painful? I don’t think so; there is clearly a place for loving, constructive criticism, in the safety of friendship.
- Proverbs 27:5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
Timing (and I would also say, “tone”) is critical.
- Proverbs 15:23 “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!”
In light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and our mandate to make disciples of all nations, all of us must know that our tongue does affect our relationships. Some of us, including me (especially me), need to repent of intentionally or unintentionally causing pain to others due to our lack of discernment. Praise God for the wisdom of Proverbs and for the hope of the gospel!