The Power of the Tongue

“Life and death are in the power of the tongue…”Proverbs 18:21
Like anything powerful, there is potential danger in the tongue. Quick and cutting words, impulsiveness, sarcasm, and competition are just a few of the ways we can abuse our speech. Words are important. Our words affect people deeply. People are built up or torn down by the words we speak. If my purpose in life is to honor God and love people, I must make how I use my speech a priority. I don’t want to simply keep from speaking words of discouragement, I am to use my tongue to give life. I must use my speech to inspire people to walk closer to the Lord, to remind them who they are in Him, to encourage, to build up, to edify, to bless.
Our very faith foundation is built upon the life giving words of Jesus, the Word made flesh. We as His people have a duty in turn to use seasoned speech that is consistently characterized by life giving. To speak encouraging things over the people around us, and to know how and when to respond (Proverbs 15:23).
So how do we control our words? How do we direct our mouth to speak life?
-Well firstly, the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart (Matthew 15:18), and I am called to watch over my heart with diligence. To check up on it vigilantly. So before my speech can become life giving, my heart has to be right.
-Ask the Lord to make me quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19), which does not come naturally to anyone but is fruit produced in me when I am living by the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25)
-Remember what it cost, the damage done in the past. Not in a shame filled way, but learning not to return to it, ending the pattern of repetition (Proverbs 26:11).
-Recognizing where my speech is corrupt and cutting it out, then only speaking what builds up (Ephesians 4:29).
-Speaking constructive criticism and correcting in love. You would be surprised how much a person will grow when rebuked in love. Knowing when and how to rebuke with God’s word in a gentle manner is one of the most valuable lessons. I have never felt more loved than when someone I respected and trusted corrected me with God’s word, even if it is painful in the moment (Proverbs 27:5-6).
-And the most important of all these is to remember that we are not on our own. God’s Spirit is producing fruit in us, and with Him comes the fruit of self control. Lean into Christ. He will not fail to give us wisdom on how to speak in a manner worthy of Him when we ask (James 1:5).

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