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Death or Life: The Power of the Tongue

Have you ever said something, and afterwards immediately wished you could take it back? You know the feeling. All of a sudden, your mind panics—Did I actually just say that?

One day, I said something very inconsiderate to my sister. Seeing that my thoughtless words had wounded her, I started thinking frantically, “Edit, Undo! Edit, Undo!” as though I could simply reverse my words with two clicks of the mouse! Although my initial reaction was somewhat amusing, the truth behind it is not. Unlike a Microsoft Word document, our words cannot be taken back.

Proverbs is full of wisdom regarding our speech. Descriptive metaphors are given to describe the power of our words. In Proverbs 12:18, our words are compared to either “sword thrusts” or “healing”, and Proverbs 18: 21 says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” What a picture!

Have you ever heard the saying,“Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never harm me"? Nothing could be more false. A cruel remark can be just as painful and humiliating as a physical slap on the face! The Bible says that our words can be used to tear each other down, or to build each other up in the Lord. In Ephesians 4:29, we are instructed: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The purpose for all our words should only be for building each other up, and giving grace to the hearer.

Restraining Our Words
Proverbs 17:27-28: "Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent."

The apostle Peter liked to talk. He was usually the first disciple to speak up and ask questions, or to reply when a question was asked. He was impulsive, rash, and often spoke before he thought. In fact, John MacArthur refers to Peter as "the disciple with the foot-shaped mouth"! But the Lord worked in Peter's heart. In the books of 1 & 2 Peter, Peter himself wrote about self-control, humility, and restraining our tongues! 1 Peter 2:9 says, "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." When you're tempted to say something thoughtless, remember this verse— and reply with kindness instead.

Learning how to restrain our words is a difficult task— and one that can only be done with the help of the Lord. Thoughtless remarks can slip so easily from our lips, only to be regretted the next moment! Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” We girls love to talk, but we need to consider our words very carefully. “Think before you speak” is advice that I have found very helpful, especially when I am frustrated or angry.

But most importantly, we need to remember to pray. The Lord will give us the strength and self-control that we need to restrain our tongues. Jesus promised in John 14:13, "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Jesus was saying that He will give us anything we ask for that is within His will. And it is certainly God's will for us to have godly, encouraging speech!

Matthew 12:36: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken."
Posted by Lindsey

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Great post. I know exactly how it feels to say something that I wish I could press "ctrl z" on immediately.

Matthew 12:36 is, in my opinion, one of the most fearsome verses in the Bible, for the unsaved person. It even makes me wonder about some professing "Christians" I know, that believe you can cuss as long as it is only at home.

Good post Lindsay.


My mom found this website for me tonight. I really like it. Thanks to whoever started it. This section a/b words was really good. Thanks for the encouragement. I often regret things I say...
-Beth from AL

Another good post. I appreciated it because I'm afraid I've had a lot of those "Undo! Edit!" moments myself. When you really think about whether or not you're saying things that build others up, you're likely to end up saying much less and regretting much less, too.

I absolutely love this website. It has been a blessing to me and I have shared it with others. Thank you kindly and God bless you :o)

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