The Bible describes the tongue as powerful, restless, evil, full of poison. (See the book of James.)
Here in Proverbs 18:21, Solomon presents his wise observation: The tongue can give life or death. It can build or destroy. It can heal or hurt.
Then he goes on to say that those who wield this powerful tool will reap the life or death it gives.
I have experienced both from others: life and death. I have heard words of life spoken to me, and have blossomed because of them. I have also heard words of death and nearly died physically because of them.
Obviously, we’re going to talk. We’re going to speak and say things. That means that at times we’re going to say things that hurt people. As believers who are supposed to speak life into others, we must become quick to own those hurtful words and apologize for them, asking forgiveness for them. Then, it is imperative that we replace those words with words of life.
An apology is not enough. We can’t undo the hurt we inflicted, but we can replace the words we spoke with words of life and truth and blessing.
“But what I said wasn’t wrong!”
Okay. And yet, that person’s spirit is now crushed. They are turning away from God. Does your being right make that less an issue?
“But I didn’t mean it to hurt them!”
I get that, but it did. If you were backing your car in a parking lot and bumped a person who then fell and broke their hip, would your intent mean their hip is healed?
Today is the day to choose, will you speak life or death? Will you bless or curse?
Oh, did I mention that you won’t be able to fix that tongue on your own? Yeah, you can’t control it. James said it’s like an out-of-control wildfire. You will need the Holy Spirit to do that controlling for you, which means…. (is this my favorite word or what?) SURRENDER.
Surrender your tongue to the Spirit of God — allow Him to guide your mind and heart so that what comes from them is life, not death. And when death slips out (or walks proudly out) of your mouth, be quick to make authentic apology (without a “but”) and seek forgiveness, replacing the ugly with beauty.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
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Faye Bryant is an author, coach, and speaker who helps individuals escape the lies of the enemy, live into God’s truth, and build a better life by first feeling, dealing, and healing their way through a stuck future or an abused past, toward a deeper path of purpose, and into the unhackable life of their chosen legacy. Hers is a story of resurrection: from death to life!