“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21)
Sometimes, if you will just sit and listen, it is amazing the things you can hear. In idle conversation, people will say some of the most incredible things. It is almost as if some people feel an actual discomfort when experiencing prolonged silence, so they just say anything to fill the void.
But Jesus says, “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).
Our words are important, they are powerful. God created the universe by simply speaking words. We are created in His image, and our words have a similar creative power. Our words can create friendship, or fuel confrontation. They can create love and longing, or hate and loathing. Words have started wars as well as ended them; and they have soothed as many hurting souls as they have created.
“…Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:5-6)
Simply by speaking certain words, we can literally create either death or life, blessing or cursing, love or hate, war or peace. Many of the troubles we face on a daily basis are of our own creation, brought about by careless words spoken in haste or in anger.
Look at Israel as an example:
“And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.” (Numbers 14:1)
“And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:2)
God brought the Children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. He led them through the wilderness towards a land that He had prepared for them; a land that was flowing with milk and honey. However, Israel felt it was taking too long, and they grew weary of their wilderness experience. They became discouraged and thought it would be better to die right there, on the way to the Promised Land, than to take another step in faith with God.
It is like that with us sometimes. God has delivered us from some form of bondage, and He is guiding us on a journey that leads to blessings. But in-between here and there, in the times of our wilderness experiences, where God allows us to suffer, and may cause us to wait for His promises to be fulfilled – we can lose hope. We may be tempted to give up and ‘return to Egypt,’ or to our former way of life. We may even despair of our own lives and wish to die.
Israel made the mistake of murmuring against God; and God heard them:
“And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,” (Numbers 14:26)
“How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? …” (Numbers 14:27)
“Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:” (Numbers 14:28)
“Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness…” (Numbers 14:29)
The Israelites spoke death into their own lives. God could have given them the Promised Land; but, by their own words, He judged them unworthy. By their own words, they were condemned. And their sins did not just affect them, but also their children:
“And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.” (Numbers 14:33)
Also see Exodus 20:5:
“…for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”
Our words can set in motion consequences that pass from one generation to the next. I know of feuds, or wars, that have been going on for so many generations, that those fighting it can’t even remember the words spoken in anger, years before, that started it. They are simply eating the fruit of their ancestors’ foolish words.
How many friendships have to end; marriages to crumble; wars be fought; generations suffer; or people to die – before we realize just how powerful our words really are?
Knowing that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21); we should be “…swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).
The Bible teaches that “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34) – whether it be filled with wickedness (Romans 1:28-32) or with good things (Philippians 4:4-8).
Reader, remember your words are important; they are powerful. Even though they do not determine your eternal destination (see Ephesians 1:4-11; Romans 8:29-30; John 6:37, 44-45, 65) – they do reveal your eternal destination:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10)
No matter what happens in life, speak words of praise:
“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalms 150:6)