Words – Life or Death? Proverbs 18:21

Points Covered: 1. Kind of words we speak. Metaphors of the human tongue. Bridling our tongue.

We are living in a time of explosion of communication and knowledge. If you have a smart phone you can speak to anyone in the world. Talking to people has just become easy and instant. Internet, email, Facebook, and WhatsApp has redefined modern-day communication. But in spite of all the technology, people still have a difficult time communicating, especially in marriage and family relationships.

God created man with the ability to communicate. He gave us the tongue as a tool to speak with each other. So we have the ability to talk to one another. God also gave us the ability to worship Him and communicate to him. Therefore, our speech is a powerful gift of God. Proverbs 18:21 KJV Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. There is life and death in our tongue. Our tongue can be used as a missile to destroy and hurt others or our tongue can be used as a medicine to heal or soothe. Our tongue can be used to accept Jesus Christ as our savior or reject Jesus and be dead in our sins. There is power in our words.

So the words that we speak are very important. The tongue can cause heartache, pain, mistrust, and anger. It is so powerful that it has caused betrayals, murders, wars, and riots. It destroys friendships, relationships, and families. The tongue can express or repress; offend or befriend; affirm or alienate; build or belittle; comfort or criticize; delight or destroy people.

Some kind of words that we speak on a regular basis.

I. Kinds of Words.

1. Words that build.

a. Edifying Words.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

b. Refreshing Words.

A good word is like taking a soothing drink. It is like someone travelling in hot the sun and coming under a waterfall. It is so refreshing.
Proverbs 10:11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain (KJV well) of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Proverbs 25:13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.

c. Nourishing Words.

Nourishing is words containing substance necessary for growth.
Proverbs 15:4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 10:21 The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense. (Children fighting).

d. Healing Words.

Our words can bring healing to people who are hurting.
Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 12:18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

e. Joyful Words.

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Sometimes when a person is down, it is the right word, the good word that lifts the spirit. Husbands and wives need to be expert in this. Over the years Glory has always had the right words to encourage me, lift my spirit, build me up.

2. Words that destroy.

a. Careless words.

Proverbs 12:18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

b. Harsh Words.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Words spoken in anger. Proverbs 26:21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. Somebody called this harm – hit and run mouth. It is a picture like kindling of a fire. (Illustration of barbeque charcoal and how we put a little petrol and it catches fire). A quarrelsome angry man is like fuel on the fire. There is a problem, there is an issue there is a discussion and the anger explodes and it escalates and so often the things we say in the heat of the moment are never forgotten.

c. Corrupt Words.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Psalm 10:7 His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.

d. Foolish Words.

Ephesians 5:4 Nor there should be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking.

e. Deceitful words.

Psalm 120:2 Save me, Lord, from lying lips and deceitful tongues.
Psalm 109:2 …for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
Psalm 5:9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.

There is power in our tongue to build and destroy but this gift from God is too often used by satan for his own plans. Often our words reflect the stress of the pressure cooker which many of us live and we go home and unload on the people that we care about the most. A wise a person understands that words are powerful and uses it very carefully.

In James 3 the Bible talks about the tongue and its power. James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

II. Metaphors of the Human Tongue:

a. Horse Bit.

James then uses a number of different metaphors to show the power of our tongue: James 3:3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. The first metaphor is the bit that is put into a horse’s mouth. This relatively small piece of metal can control a very powerful animal, directing the horse to the right to the left or to stop. An adult horse weighs 500 kg with 14.9 horsepower is controlled with a small bit.

b. Rudder of a Ship.

James 3:4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. James also compares the tongue to a rudder on a ship. Just as a small rudder can control the direction of a large ship, so too the tongue can control our lives.

The horse or the ship does not lose its power but the huge animal and a big machine is controlled and made productive with the bit and rudder.

c. Fire.

James goes on to uses the image of fire. James 3:5-6 5Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Just like a small spark can ignite an entire forest, so too words that flow out of tongues can corrupt lives and shipwreck families. So we need to bridle the tongue.

How to bridle the tongue? James 1:26 KJV If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth (NIV: Keep a tight reign) not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

III. Bridling our tongue.

1. Pause.

James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Have you ever had a problem getting angry? Do you know that is because you have a problem talking? If I want to be slow to anger, I need to be slow to speak. How many times we get into a conversation and we say things and then we have to go back and say, “I am so sorry, I should not have said that.” We get angry too quickly because we are talking too quickly and not listening.

Proverbs 21:23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
Proverbs 10:19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. It is my responsibility to hold my tongue.
Proverbs 17:27-28 27The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint (smart people does not talk much), and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. 28Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.
Proverbs 18:13 To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. Have you finished someone else’s sentences?

That is that is verse is telling us. Just pause. Don’t tell anything, just be quiet. Wait before you answer. Wait – Why am I talking? Before you say anything wait. If life and death are in the power of the tongue, then why do you quickly talk? Because every time we talk either death or life.

Communication is not only speaking but it is listening as well. In fact, God gave us two ears and one mouth. That ought to tell us about how we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.

2. Ponder.

Think about what you are going to say before saying an answer. How many times you have said something and later regret it? Now there are people who think before they talk, think while they talk, after they talk, fourth people who never think at all.

We think in 2 places: When we hear something there is a sudden reaction from our head, then things settle down and we have a second thought from our heart. We think in our mind and hearts.

Proverbs 23:7 KJV For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:34-35 “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
Luke 9:47 KJV And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him.
Matthew 9:4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?
Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Medical science says now that man can think not only in his mind but also in his heart. Scientists conducted studies on 70 heart transplant patients. The studies state that after recovering from their transplant, the recipients started recounting incidents that occurred in their donor’s life. A 52-year-old man loved classical music, but after given the heart of a teenager he discovered he loved rock music. A man who had received a heart from a woman who died in a train accident had recurrent dreams about train accidents. After an 8-year-old girl received the heart of a murdered child, she started having recurring nightmares. She described the circumstances of her donor’s death and the killer in such detail that the police were able to capture the murder who was later convicted.

Our hearts can think. As much as we think in our mind, our hearts can think. If we will just pause and think about it, we could think about it in our hearts, not just our minds. Have you ever said, “This is what just comes from my mind?” would it not be better to give someone an answer from the bottom of our hearts instead of the top of our minds. Because how many times have we said something and after a while we say to them, “I am sorry. I really did not mean that. That is not in my heart.” It was not in your heart but you spoke from your mind.

Jesus said Luke 6:45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. It all starts in the heart.

So if we want to bridle our tongue then we need to ponder, think and speak. Then we will be able to analyze a situation with your analytical skills of our mind and emotion from our heart and take a very right stand in a situation.

Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

3. Pray.

Isaiah 6:1-4 1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

What is the first thing that comes to his mind when he sees the Lord? It is his mouth. Isaiah 6:5-8 5“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” 6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips (notice where it starts, at Pentecost it started with the tongue); your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

He did not say, “Here I am send me,” until he had an encounter with God. So Isaiah goes into the temple, worships God and in worshipping God he see a vision of the Lord. Immediately when he sees a holy God he is convicted about one area of his life, his mouth. He says, “I cannot control my tongue. I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.” Think about it how unclean, how vulgar, and how sarcastic our speech is. He said, “I cannot control my tongue, I need help.” I need this every day. I need to see the king, I need to see the Lord every day and when I see him everyday God can touch my tongue that day and then I can go out.

Illustration: I had a lot of trouble growing up because of my words. I did not know what to say when and where. I ended up in a lot of trouble, hurting people, talking unnecessarily, and always asking pardon. Even if I am not at fault, it always would come down at me. People used to take advantage of my words and innocence sometimes. Now when I look into my life then, there was no growth or prosperity but I was a child of God, in ministry.

One day I had an encounter with God and the first thing I got in that encounter was to pour out my frustration and feelings to him. Use my tongue to talk my issues to my father. I surrendered my tongue to God. From that day God changed my tongue and he gave me the power to bridle it. Life has been different ever since.

For some of you are just not able to control your tongue. You have tried your whole life controlling your tongue. Today God is going to touch your lips with the coal from the altar.