Read Proverbs 18:1-24
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (v. 21).
The book of Proverbs . . . that book, which gives instruction about godly wisdom . . . gives us a wealth of instruction about the words we say. In fact, out of the twenty-four verses of this chapter alone, roughly ten of them address how we communicate.
Verse 21 makes that incredible influence clear. You have experienced their life-giving ability, I am sure. They came at a time when you were discouraged. They were expressed at a time when you were down. You may have been ready to throw in the towel and call it quits. You were convinced that your efforts had been in vain, that no one benefitted, cared, or noticed. But those words made all the difference. They were just the words you needed. They came at just the right time. As a result, you found new strength. You kept going. Maybe you owe your vocation to those few words. Perhaps a relationship was rescued because of them. That, my friend, is the life-giving capacity of our speech.
But you have also likely witnessed the murderous power of words. Whether you were on the receiving end of them or it was someone you know, you have seen the oxygen sucked out of a room as the suffocating power of words killed a dream. You have listened and watched as their powerful venom resulted in paralysis of a person in need of a simple kindness. You have heard children devalued by careless adults and have seen the destructive cyclical outcome. You have listened as people were lumped together in stereotype and addressed with hate-filled speech. Your attentive ears heard words from careless lips of a person whose unperceptive eyes failed to recognize someone as being made in the image of God. Yep, you know it to be true. Words have the power to kill.
Our words are just small and seemingly insignificant. And yet, they can kill or bring life. Given the disproportionate power of your speech, which type of words will you speak today?