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“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21
The words we speak have so much power in our lives. They literally are the source of life and death, as King Solomon wrote thousands of years ago. I’d never really given much thought to the scriptures devoted to our speech until I got married.
Earlier this summer, I was deeply convicted about the power of the tongue during the first week of our summer tour (to learn more about our summer tour visit www.fearlesssummer.com). There was an air of dissension in our group of eight, caused by a handful of miscommunications and misunderstandings. Keep in mind that during the summer tour, all eight of us live out of a 15-passenger van. We travel across the country and back during the course of 2 months and are together every day in 100 degree weather, working on very little sleep. I’m sure you can imagine that we don’t always get along like best friends; we’re more like siblings. During the process of smoothing things over with the group, I became more discerning of the words I spoke to my husband and my friends, and at the same time became much more receptive to the words others spoke to me. I realized just how hurtful even one harsh word can be, and just how uplifting and life-giving a kind word can be. Funny that words, intangible and fleeting as they are, hold so much power and weight in our lives.
In fact, some of my deepest regrets in life stem from my tongue. I often let my tongue slip when I speak to Joe. A three second disrespectful sentence can seed resentment that grows for days between us. I’ve also wounded some of my best friends with rude comments, bitterness, or even just careless words. And the hurtful words of my friends and family have caused me some of the most painful inflictions.
At the same time, I have also been very encouraged and honored by words others have spoken over me and to me. A simple kind word at the right moment has completely changed my negative perspective, given my spirit hope, and filled me with encouragement when I needed it most.
I had my second deep conviction earlier this month. In fact, I would say that I’m still feeling convicted, so much so that I’m writing this blog in an attempt to put to words what the Lord has laid on my heart. I came across a couple passages in James and Proverbs that are gold nuggets regarding the tongue:
James 3:2-10 – “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”
Proverbs 39:1 – “I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle…””
Through these verses and the recent experiences in my life, the Lord has really been teaching me to be aware and conscious of the words I speak to others. Even though I don’t have control over the words others speak to me, I know that I can make every effort to control my tongue. Each time I speak something into someone I am really sowing seeds into that relationship, good or bad. I pray that my speech would be like life-giving fruit and not lethal poison in people’s lives. Each time I speak I must ask myself, am I sowing fear or courage? Death or life? Weakness or strength? Sorrow or happiness? Discouragement or encouragement? Doubt or faith? What will you choose to sow with your words?