Life and death are the in the words we speak…Do we believe it?
The Bible says:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21 NKJV)
There are several things here that are puzzling. This scripture says that the tongue has power. I never really thought of the tongue having power. The scripture also poses the thought of loving your tongue. Loving your tongue? Why would anyone do that, I’m kind of indifferent toward it myself; it’s just a tool I use to eat with and talk with. And eating its fruit, what does that mean?
To try to clarify these things, let’s look at the definition of power from the Merriam-Webster dictionary: the ability to act or produce an effect. And the definition of fruit in this context is: “The effect or consequence of an action or operation: PRODUCT, RESULT.”
The Amplified Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].”
So, how can our tongues be powerful enough to hold life and death?
As you recall, the Bible talks a lot about God’s word. God created everything with only His spoken word. The scripture says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. (Psalm 33:60)
That’s pretty powerful. The Lord said in Isaiah:
…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
God’s words have a purpose and they will accomplish something. Couldn’t this also apply to us so we are made in His image?
And in Matthew:
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
Think about this and imagine the earth just being destroyed and disappearing – what a cataclysmic thing that will be – but spoken words will never pass away? That’s pretty mind-blowing.
And look at this:
That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9) All you have to do is “confess with your mouth” and you will be saved. Those are some pretty powerful words, confessing that Jesus is Lord and you’re saved from eternal damnation. Words are powerful.
When Jesus was in his earthly body, he spoke powerful words all the time, healing the sick with His word, casting out demons with His word, forgiving sin and iniquity with His word, rebuking the devil with His word, and on and on. Speaking life pretty much all the time, except…remember the story of the fig tree in Mark Chapter 11:
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. 20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” 22″Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23″I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
So, Jesus spoke death to the tree with only His word. He didn’t have to use poison or root killer, he just spoke to it. Words have power.
Let’s look the story about the Roman centurion in Matthew Chapter 8:
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
This centurion understood authority! The authority we have with our words in Jesus’ name!
Look at how many Psalms and Proverbs and other wisdom scriptures there are about what we say, and these are just a few. Do you think the Lord was trying to tell us something?
Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (Proverbs 4:24)
Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin. (Proverbs 10:14)
A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. (Proverbs 11:12)
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (Proverbs 15:2)
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4)
A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:23)
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (Proverbs 17:27)
A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul. (Proverbs 18:7)
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. (Proverbs 21:23)
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)
Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. (Ecclesiastes 10:12)
Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD ; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3)
You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue! (Psalm 52:4)
Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you. (Job 15:6)
Let’s see what else Jesus said about the spoken word in Matthew Ch. 12:
33 Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
Now, you might be thinking, “oh well, He was just talking to the Pharisees, they were evil anyway. This doesn’t apply to me.”
More scriptures in Matthew:
11 It is not what goes into the mouth of a man that makes him unclean and defiled, but what comes out of the mouth; this makes a man unclean and defiles [him]. 18But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what makes a man unclean and defiles [him].
Now, child of God, why would you want to defile yourself?
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)
I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. (John 8:51)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
For the word of God is living 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. (Hebrews 4:12)
2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:2-10)
For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. (1 Peter 3:10)
But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. (Luke 6:49)
He replied, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. (Luke 11:28)
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:22-26)