“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)
God created the world by speaking it into existence. (Genesis 1)
By speaking it forth, He healed people, forgave their sins, raised them from the dead. (Mark 2: 1-12, Luke 7:48, John 11:43)
I don’t know exactly how it works, but there is no denying that there is power in the spoken word. This is not just some silly superstition. It is evident throughout the Bible. Jesus, Himself, is called the Word (John 1:1).
Countless verses in the Bible deal with the tongue. Countless. The tongue brings life and brings death. When in doubt, we are told to remain silent. Better silence than a tongue misused. (Proverbs 17:28)
The bad guy knows this. This is why his deadliest temptation of human beings comes by our tongue. Not lusts of the eyes or body. But our tongue. Deadliest because it is an innocuous little muscle, employed unobtrusively in daily functions. The mole you would never suspect.
I have often wondered why, when I get angry or frustrated, a dam breaks inside of me and all I want to do is shout curses at the top of my lungs.
Bad drivers. Inconsiderate people. Difficult colleagues. A fender-bender. A leak in the roof – again. Plain old meanies of life.
All I need to do is open my mouth and…how easy it would be! Instant relief, right?
And I’m a rational person. A nice little Christian school teacher, mother of two who prays daily and has even taught Sunday school. Yup. Confession time.
As if ugly words could fix the problem.
But they are not merely ugly words.The Bible makes it clear that the power that raised Jesus from the dead also lives in us, those who believe. (Romans 8:11, Ephesians 1:19-20)
This is not good news on a bad day.
The bad guy knows that spoken words are powerful. This is why the temptation is so great. Greater than other sins because our tongue is so easy to use! No “on” switches or login passwords. No locks or combinations. No messy physical evidence. Just let loose.
“If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.” (James 3:26)
There is nothing that makes me feel more ashamed or further away from God than when, out of one side of my mouth I have uttered fragrant prayers to My Lord, then with the other side of my mouth, I proceed to do bloody violence.
What good is it that we teach children in Sunday school, feed the poor, visit the orphans and widows if, with one strike of our tongue, we can bring sulfuric rain upon the earth, killing all that is in its path?
Our tongues make it so easy for the bad guy to pack it in and call it a day. God hates hypocrites, after all.
But there is a flipside, too. The life-giving part.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
Indeed, it is easy to “know”, this little secret. We all know it. But will we use our “rudder” to bring ourselves and others to heaven or to hell?
I am too weak. Too given to sin. My body does what I don’t want it to do, and doesn’t do what I want.
But I have another secret weapon. He Who is not too weak. Whose Word is Strong. Mighty. Awesome. Wonderful. Invincible.
And He lives in me.
When that dam threatens to break, I will shout it out at the top of my lungs:
“Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43)