“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” Proverbs 18:21
Actions may speak louder than words, but the words we say reveal many things about us. What is important to me? Am I kind? Am I honest? Can you tell me a secret and trust that I’ll keep it?
In fact, much of the Book of Proverbs separates the wicked and the upright according to what comes out of the mouth. After all, Jesus said, “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37).
Some days, when my foot is in my mouth more than it’s on the ground, the thought of being judged by my own words is hardly comforting. We need to heed the roads signs given by wise Solomon. What these lips of ours say show our true colors.
Are We Wicked?
According to the wisdom found in Proverbs, our words can show our wickedness if we:
- Lie in wait for blood (12:6)
- Our mouth traps us (12:13)
- Always change our story (12:19)
- Don’t enlighten others with what we say (15:7)
- Dig up evil (16:27)
- Sow strife (16:28)
- Cause division among friends (16:28)
Our words prove we’re acting foolishly when they:
- Cause contention (18:6)
- Earn us a beating (18:6)
- Destroy others (18:7)
- Snare our souls (18:7)
Are We Upright?
In contrast to the negative attributes our words reveal, positive outcomes are also possible. It’s all about the words we choose, the way we say them and the results seen when we’re done speaking.
Solomon says that an upright or righteous person will:
- Be delivered by his speech (12:6)
- Come out of trouble (12:13)
- Be satisfied with good (12:14)
- Have joy (12:20; 15:23)
- Disperse knowledge to others (15:7)
- Delight kings (16:13)
- Be loved by others (16:13)
James, the Lord’s brother, devotes eleven verses to the trouble caused by the tongue in our mouth. Check out James 3: 2-12 to learn how the tongue is similar to a bit (if only we could bridle our lips sometimes), a rudder, a fire and deadly poison. Indeed, what we say truly does matter.
“If any many offend not in word, the same is a perfect man” (Ja 3:2). The only perfect man is the Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of us need a measure of duct tape if we hope to meet that measure.
Remember how mom always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? And the teacher wanted us to think before we spoke? God’s Word agrees that mom and teach knew what they were talking about – in this case at least.