What our speech produces has eternal implications, for it reveals what is in our hearts. Jesus said:
“The 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” | (Matthew 12:35).
Isaiah places words on par with actions for displaying a sinful heart (Isaiah 59:2-3).
“Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36).
In and of ourselves, we are utterly unable to “tame the tongue” because “it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). James is clear here. We need to take this seriously because we do have a problem.
Speech — Can it bring ruin or joy to the speaker?
A tongue under control is a mark of the Spirit’s power. Apart from accepting Jesus’ atonement on the cross, we will be judged according to our words:
“For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).
By the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, my words can have a grace and elegance I am naturally unable to achieve. Now that is some good news!
- Ephesians 4:29 — Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
- Proverbs 12:13–14 — An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will escape from trouble. A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.
- Psalm 140:9 — “As for the head of those who surround me, May the mischief of their lips cover them.”
- Proverbs 10:14 — Wise men store up knowledge, But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.
- Proverbs 13:3 — The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
- Proverbs 14:3 — In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back, But the lips of the wise will protect them.
- Proverbs 18:6–7 — A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul.
- Proverbs 18:20 — With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.
- Proverbs 21:23 — He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.
- Ecclesiastes 10:12–14 — Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness. Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him?
Faith at Work: We should be known as gracious and kind. We should speak well of others. We should show the wisdom that God has given us through Jesus. We will encounter plenty of colleagues who are toxic in their approach to gossip and belittling others. Our challenge, from Jesus, is to not join in.