Tag Archives: power of life and death are in the tongue

Choosing Right Words

In middle school, every day during lunch a group of us would sit at the same table with one goal in mind, make someone cry. We would spend the entire hour doing put down contests. Two of us would face off and trade put downs until one of us cried or ran out of out downs. I learned to develop thick skin and to have quick retorts. The down side of that is that I spent decades putting people down not understanding the power of my words. Because I had developed thick skin, I assumed everyone had the ability to prevent words from affecting them long term. I later learned the power of the tongue and how important it was to build people up instead of tearing them down.

Paul was a person who underwent a transformation. He thought he was pleasing God by tearing down Christians, but had the Damascus Road experience where Jesus changed him. Later, God chose he and Barnabas to work together to build people up. Barnabas’ name actually means, “Son of Encouragement”. How cool is that? He lived up to his name through encouraging Paul and others to reach their potential through spiritual growth. We don’t hear a whole lot about him, but we know that for a season, the two of these men challenged each other and the Early Church together. Their goal was to win people to Christ and to lead believers into spiritual maturity through their words.

Our goal is no different. Romans 14:19 says, “So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth]” (AMP). What words do you use when speaking with others? Are they building them up or are they tearing them down? Are you contentious or are you a peacemaker? God’s Word is clear. The power of life and death are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). We must choose our words carefully and use them to speak life and encourage growth. There are enough things in this world to bring division to us. Instead of focusing on those or letting them rule us, let’s look for commonalities and work to build each other up and unite ourselves together as one.

Photo by Luke Ellis-Craven on Unsplash

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Kingdom Builders

One of the most powerful things on earth is the tongue. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the power of life and death are in it. The words you choose to say to someone can make or break their day and even their life. According to a study done by the University of Arizona, the average person speaks about 16,000 words a day. How many of those words are we being intentional about? How many times do we say something in passing or jokingly that could hurt someone? The more we speak, the greater the chances are that we become less intentional about what we say. More than that, a UCLA study showed that 93% of communication is nonverbal. So beyond what we’re saying, how we’re nonverbally communicating it to someone is more important when it comes to how they receive it.

Several years ago in Israel, I was touring Jesus’ hometown of a Nazareth. The guide there shared that while Joseph taught Jesus to be a carpenter, that word had a broader meaning back then. It wasn’t just wood that a carpenter would have worked with. They would have also worked with stones. 1 Peter 2:5 says you and I are living stones being built up into a spiritual house. Think about what he’s saying with the context that Jesus would be a stone carpenter. Also think about how buildings were built out of stone back then versus wood today. You are a building block of God’s Kingdom that Jesus is shaping and placing in just the right place. Now think of how you and I are to be Christlike in building each other up. We are stone carpenters ourselves.

Jude 1:20-21 says, “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love” (NLT). Each of us have a divine command to built each other up. We must use words, prayer and the Bible to encourage one another and build each other up. If we’re constantly putting others down, we’re in essence trying to undo the work that Jesus is trying to do in their lives. We are partners with Him in this, so let’s work together with Him in building up the lives of those around us. Pray each day asking the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to say to build up others when they need it most. You might just speak life into someone and save their life.

Photo by Andre Moraes on Unsplash

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Controlling The Tongue

  
Have you ever said the wrong thing at the wrong time? It happens to me all the time. I ignore the filter and say things that hurt, offend, or are not uplifting. It’s not intentional. It just comes out. I think many of us are guilty of poorly chosen words or of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. The book of James says that no man came tame the tongue, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to watch what we say.

The Bible has a lot to say about the tongue and our words. I believe that while we will never tame it, we can learn to control it and use it better. We have a choice in the words we use each and every day. Some are spoken in the heat of the moment and others are well thought out. No matter when, what, or how we say something, once those words leave our mouth, they can never be taken back. It’s important that we choose wisely.

Here are some Bible verses to help watch what we say.

1. Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.
Proverbs 21:23 NLT

2. Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal.
Proverbs 12:18 GNT

3. A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
Proverbs 15:1 MSG

4. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21 ESV

5. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
James 1:26 NLT

6. And my tongue shall talk of Your righteousness, rightness, and justice, and of [my reasons for] Your praise all the day long.
Psalm 35:28 AMP

7. For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…

A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7 NLT

8. Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Proverbs 17:27 ESV

9. Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.
Proverbs 19:11 MSG

10. Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips.
Psalms 141:3 NLT

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Bless You 

Blessing someone is not what we normally do unless someone sneezes. I believe it’s an under utilized tool God gives us. The fact that people in the Bible blessed their kids and each other, reiterates the power of words. I don’t know how many stories I’ve heard from people who have let what someone else said about them affect their self image. Those spoken words went out of the other person’s mouth and into their heart. Those words caused them to struggle for years.

Masaru Emoto did a study called “The Hidden Message in Water” to show the power of words. He used spoken word, labeling water with a word, and playing music then he immediately froze it. The results are astounding. What you see below are some of the photos taken from this experiment.
  
Now think about this: your body is about 60% water. Words have a greater effect than you or I realize. It’s no wonder that Solomon wrote in Proverbs 18:21 that death and life are in the power of the tongue. The words we say to our spouse, our children, our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and those driving around us have real consequences. It’s so important that we learn to speak blessings over them.

Today, to end this devotion, I’m going to bless you with the words God told Moses to use to bless the congregation of Israel in Numbers 6:24-26.

“May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace” (NLT).

If you would like to watch a video of Masaru Emoto’s work, click here.

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