Daily I am reminded of how careless I am with words. Thankfully, Christ died for the sins of my tongue just as much as any other sin.

Here is a “Bible verse poem” compiled from Proverbs 10:19, Ephesians 4:29, Luke, 6:45, and Matthew 12:36-37. Lord, remind us of the power of our words


When words are many,
transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good,
and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil,
for out of the abundance of the heart
his mouth speaks.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up,
as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account
for every careless word they speak,
for by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned.

Life Theology

Your Words Have the Power of Life and Death

Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. (Romans 3:10)

Think about the way you talked today. How did you use your words? Were they used to build up or tear down? To give life or kill?

Paul writes that sinners (namely, everyone) use the tongue to hurt people. The tongue itself is not a moral object. It may be used for truth-speaking, encouraging, and gospel preaching. But it also may be used to deceive, slander, and discourage.  Paul describes people’s lips as having “the venom of asps.”  An asp is a venomous snake that lived in the Nile region during Paul’s day.  In modern day, it is native to southwestern Europe.  In antiquity, when a criminal was not thought to deserve a respectable execution, he would be injected with the asp’s venom, which is particularly potent.

Think about that for a second: our words can be used like snake venom in an execution.

Gossip. Slander. Biting sarcasm. Wrath. Clamor.

Friends. Neighbors. Parents. Siblings. Spouses. Co-workers. Strangers.

Whoever said, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me,” obviously never had an interpersonal relationship with anyone.  Words do hurt and, according to Paul, they can kill.  The venom of an asp will eventually kill someone physically and put them out of their misery.  Words, on the other hand, are remembered in the heart and mind, and are carried emotionally and spiritually until death.  Words can kill slowly and softly.  Over and over and over again.

Paul Tripp has said, “You have never spoken a neutral word in your life.”  We must ask ourselves: Do our words bring life or bring death?  Do our words bring the infusion of gospel comfort, peace, encouragement, love, unity, and truth, or do they bring the hellish venom of hurt, discord, discouragement, bitterness, division, and falsehood?


Do your words give life or bring death?

Paul David Tripp has said, “You have never spoken a neutral word in your life. Your words have the power of life and death in them.” This morning, Proverbs 12:18, made that come to life for me:

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Lord, help me to speak words that are sweet to the ears of those around me. Let me speak life to people, and not death.


Proverbs: Wisdom in Speech

Part 6 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Let me say this right up front: I am not the greatest example of wise speech.  I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth a few times and I have let a few foul words slip as well.  Yet in his great mercy, despite my constant failures, God is refining my tongue.  I praise him for his sanctifying and empowering grace.

Proverbs has more to say about our speech than any other subject – besides the benefits of wisdom.  Indeed, this is a major theme of the Bible as well.  Luke 6:45 says, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  James 3:2 says, “For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his wholly body.”

The straightforward command of Solomon to his son in Proverbs 4:24 is umbrella principle for our speech.  He says, “Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.”  This doesn’t just mean stop telling junior high locker room jokes.  It means anything that isn’t in line with God’s standard for righteousness, justice, and wholesomeness.  Wow.  It’s no wonder that “no man can tame the tongue” (James 3:8).

There are benefits to controlling our tongue (which, ultimately, means we control our hearts as Luke 6:45 says).  Solomon later says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (13:3).  And again, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (29:20).  In other words, if you are loose and foolish with your speech, the guy who sticks his hand in the bonfire to see how hot it is has more hope than you.

Words are powerful.  Paul Tripp has said, “You have never spoken a neutral word in your life.  Either your talk brings life or brings death.”  That strikes a chord deep inside of my heart.  Words lure men away into adultery (7:5, 21).  Words tarnish the reputation of a neighbor (11:9).  Words scorch close relationships (16:27-28).  Harsh words create anger (15:1b).  On the other hand, soft words remove wrath (15:1a).  Words heal wounded hearts (12:18).  Honest words are like a lover’s kiss (24:26).  A word fitly spoken is like a sweet fruit tray at a dinner party (25:11).

I haven’t even touched on gossip, lying, deception, reproving others, and a slew of other speech-related issues.  There’s so much to reflect on.  The bottom line is that if our hearts are wicked, our speech will be as well.  O Lord, change our hearts that our speech might be seasoned with salt so that it might be received well by the listening ear.  Cause the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart, Father, to be acceptable in your sight (Ps. 19:14).

To be continued…