The Power of the Tongue (February)

Part 1
by Sarah L. Bryant


“Death and life are in the power of the tongue:
and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
(Proverbs 18:21)

God’s Word has been speaking to me about the influence and importance of my words. As I have noted the countless verses that speak directly of the power of the tongue, I have learned that this area is not something to be taken lightly, for it is obviously extremely important to the Lord. Our words will reap tremendous blessed fruit or painful consequences. In fact, this verse says that death and life are in the power of our tongues. That is pretty amazing to think about. To be sure, our actions are very weighty; yet, our words can bring even more powerful consequences! God’s Word states that “the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5) This passage also says that the tongue is an incredibly difficult, and even impossible, member of our bodies to tame—outside of the power of the Lord in our life.

As we study this topic and see how important our words are, it is helpful to consider the example of our perfect heavenly Father. What are His words like? Psalm 12:6 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” Never does ANY word or even letter come forth from the Lord’s mouth without being completely refined and perfected. In fact, they are like silver purified seven times in the hottest furnace. After seven purifications, silver is completely pure and of highest quality. Similarly, God’s words are utterly perfect and we can trust our lives upon the truth of His promises.

The Psalmist revels, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (119:103) How beautiful and joyful are the words of the Lord to us, as His children!

As I consider how quickly I can slip and say something unkind or ungracious, I stand in awe of my God, Whose every word is PURE. How humbling it is to see my own frailty and weakness, in governing one of the smallest instruments of my body—my tongue! And yet, how comforting it is to know that the Lord’s strength is ever present, if I will humbly ask Him to set a watch over my mouth, and help me speak in a way that always honors Him.

Psalm 139:4 reminds us of how important it is that we carefully chose our words, for every single one is heard in the very throne-room of God: “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.” This thought is extremely sobering! It reveals how imperative it is for us to know HOW the Lord wants us to govern our tongues. It encourages us to check our words and evaluate them in light of our holy Redeemer’s standard.

So, what does the Lord say about this topic? What does “taming the tongue” look like? How thankful I am for the dozens of verses that the Lord has given in His Word, which focus on this topic. I would like to share several helpful passages with you.

“The words of the pure are pleasant words.”
(Proverbs 15:26)

On a most basic level, our words should be pleasant—pleasing, uplifting, edifying, a blessing for others to hear. We do not want to be like the brawling woman described in Proverbs, whose lips constantly complain and nag, and whose mouth is like a dripping faucet. As sisters, we should strive against nagging our siblings or bossing them around constantly. It is helpful for me to challenge myself to “pleasant words” as an exercise (it is not always easy!).

“A soft tongue breaketh the bone.”
(Proverbs 25:15)

Truly, a kind and gracious word in the face of anger or opposition breaks the conscience. Picture this scene: you have been cooking in the kitchen, and your older sister walks in the room and notes the large mess that has been made. Needing to make dinner, she impatiently comments, “Why did you make such a mess? I need the kitchen cleaned up so that I can prepare dinner!” Your natural tendency, of course, would be to reply impatiently at her remark. However, what if you decide to respond with a soft word—in love and kindness—rather than impulsive impatience? You kindly reply, “I am so sorry this project took me so long. I am finishing it up right now and will wash the dishes in just a minute so you can make dinner.” Can you see how this response would convict your older sister and soften her impatience, and allow you both to work together the rest of the evening without conflict and bitterness? Soft words of kindness can truly mend relationships within seconds—it only requires swallowing that pride!

“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.
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”
(James 3:9-11) 

I have been pondering the sad fact that from our mouths often come blessing and cursing, as this passage points out. Isn’t it true, that at church, we can speak words of kind encouragement to someone, and the next hour at home, we can snap at a sibling? How can this be so, if the sweet water of Jesus Christ’s spirit truly flows in our heart (John 15:4)? How can we spill forth “sweet” water, and “bitter” water? It ought not to be this way! Our family members should never be treated with less honor and love that others outside of our homes. Let us seek to be true real and honest before the Lord, for He knows our hearts—and our words.

There are several more passages that I would love to share with you, dear sisters, on this topic, and I hope to do so in next month’s article. Meanwhile, this month, will you prayerfully study James chapter three, learn about the power of your words? You will be amazed at how much emphasis He places on the power of our tongues. Then humbly evaluate your words and pray for wisdom as to how to open your mouth with wisdom and love. Ask the Lord to convict you of areas that need to be changed. May this be your heart’s prayer:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, 
be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” 
(Psalm 19:14) 

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth:
and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”
(Proverbs 15:23) 

Let us seek to speak words of LIFE!

Rejoicing in the WORD,

P.S. Be sure to check back this month for a special surprise we will be sharing on our website!

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