Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The tongue can be used as a weapon to harm and destroy or as a tool to build and heal. What kind of impact do your words have?
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Maybe you’ve said it, but do you believe it? Someone revised this into, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.”
Our newspaper carried the tragic story of a teenaged girl who began an online relationship with an admirer in a cyberspace chat room. The boyfriend, who was really her neighbor posing as someone else, broke up with her and wrote that the world would be a better place without her. The girl read those words and killed herself.
When has an acid tongue burned you? Or kind words refreshed your soul? We’ve all wished we could retract a thoughtless jab or had the perfect word to say at the right time. The Bible tells us the types of words that bless and curse.
What Does “Life and Death and in the Power of the Tongue” Mean?
The Bible shows the difference between a life-giving tongue and a destructive one.
John Gills Commentary explains it this way: “death and life are in the power of the tongue – of witnesses, according to the testimony they bear; of judges, according to the sentence they pass; of teachers, according to the doctrine they preach; of all men, who, by their well or ill speaking, bring death or life to themselves and others. Some, by their tongues, by the too free use of them, or falsehood they utter, are the cause of death to themselves and others; and some, by their silence, or by their prudent speech and prevalent intercession, secure or obtain life for themselves and others; yea, judgment at the last day will proceed according to a man’s words, “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned”, (Matthew 12:37); the tongue is the instrument either of a great deal of good, or of a great deal of evil .”
Matthew Henry adds this helpful explanation: “The testimony of our consciences will be for us, or against us, according as we have or have not governed our tongues well. According as the fruit of the mouth is good or bad, unto iniquity or unto righteousness, so the character of the man is, and consequently the testimony of his conscience concerning him. “We ought to take as great care about the words we speak as we do about the fruit of our trees or the increase of the earth, which we are to eat; for, according as they are wholesome or unwholesome, so will the pleasure or the pain be wherewith we shall be filled.’’ Bishop Patrick. A man may do a great deal of good, or a great deal of hurt, both to others and to himself, according to the use he makes of his tongue. Many a one has been his own death by a foul tongue, or the death of others by a false tongue; and, on the contrary, many a one has saved his own life, or procured the comfort of it, by a prudent gentle tongue, and saved the lives of others by a seasonable testimony or intercession for them. And, if by our words we must be justified or condemned, death and life are, no doubt, in the power of the tongue.”
Using the words BLESS and CURSE let’s consider the power each of our tongues wield.