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A Matter of Life & Death: The Power of the Tongue



There used to be a statement made on the playground. It went like this: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me." Maybe your version sounded a little different, but you get the point. We wanted the bullies to know that we were not worried about their words. However, it is truly a lie. Words can harm me.


Have you ever considered the power of your tongue? I’m not talking about hanging from the roof like a circus freak, or pulling a semi like a world record holder, but the power of your words! We need to understand the power of the tongue. Speech is one of the greatest powers God has given us. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The way we choose to use our tongue will determine whether ours has life or death. What will you choose?


The controlled tongue has the power to direct lives (James 3:1-5). We direct others when we teach. I believe that the ability to control our tongue is the ultimate test of maturity and self-control. Consider that: (1) It directs our lives. “You have to live with the consequences of everything you say.” (Proverbs 18:20) (2) It directs the lives of those around us. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24) Someone once said, “We shape our words and then our words shape us and those around us.”

The uncontrolled tongue has the power to destroy lives (James 3:5-8). Our words can destroy our life, future, and the lives of those around us. The uncontrolled tongue is inconsistent and displays our heart. (James 3:9-12). “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Please do not allow your tongue to destroy you and others. Hate filled speech does not build up. The root of this is in negative thinking will consume you to say things that are damaging.

How do we know this is a serious problem? We need to realize two things: (1) We cannot control our tongue ourselves. (2) Our tongue problems are really heart problems. Our problems with gossip, lack of conflict resolution, and poor communication stem from serious heart problems. Churches struggle. Marriages fall apart. Relationships fade. All of these things happen because of the tongue. There is no question that each of us have had our share of issues in this area. What do you do when people run you down, destroy your reputation, gossip about your life decisions, create or foster conflict, and attempt to defame your character? One thing you should do is use your words to pray for them, not to return evil to them.

How do we get control of our tongue? Here are some good ideas: (1) Give God your heart daily. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1) (2) Guard your heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 14:23) (3) Practice blessing others. “Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him.” (Psalm 147:1)

If you are guilty of using your tongue for evil, instead of good, then you need to repent. Use your words to confess your sins. That needs to be done in a public manner if you have refused to practice Matthew 18:15-17. Only then can you be restored to a place of peace within the church family and work on repairing the damage caused to those you have harmed with your words. Then, put it behind you and begin using your words for good!


Simple advice isn’t it? Just walk with God daily, think before you speak, and bless one person each day. Isn’t that what Christianity is really all about? Who have you praised today? Use your words for good! Have a great week!!!


You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds

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