Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
This passage teaches an essential principle that we often fail to apply to our lives. The tongue here represents the “words” produced by the tongue. To examine this a little further, we need to investigate the root cause of the words produced by the tongue. And of course, it all begins in the “heart”. The condition of the heart is the root cause of the outcome of the words you speak. Matthew 15:18 says “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”
What we see here are the words spoken, produce fruit in accordance with it. This fruit can either lead to death or life, and that’s the “power” it yields. Consider this thought for a moment. If the words you speak produce fruit, then it implies the words themselves represent a form of ‘seed’. So, ask yourself the question, what type of seed are you sowing into your life and the lives of others around you?
How is death produced by the power of the tongue? Reading the next verses in Matthew 15:18-19 tells us “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Then it says, “For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” You see when these are the inner thoughts of your heart; then the result is transformed into the words you speak. These are “words” that kill! You become them! Psalm 64:3-4 says “who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless, shooting at him suddenly and without fear.”
It brings destruction and steers you in the direction of death, both to yourself and others. James 3:8-9 says “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.”
Ultimately death also comes to us because our very words will bring condemnation on the final day of judgment. Matthew 12:36-37 says “I tell you, on the day of judgment every person 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.” Friends, I urge you not to take lightly every word spoken, not to be careless with them and to know that you will be accountable for every single one of them.
Instead, speak life! The fruits of a word spoken rightly can bring peace, can turn away anger, can bring good health, it is a sign of an authentic relationship with Christ, and ultimately, it is a display of true religion.
So, whenever you speak, speak in a manner that will bring life to you and your hearer, eventually bringing glory to God our Father in heaven.
Firstly, speak peace and turn away wrath. Proverbs 15:1 says ” A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Secondly, by doing so, you will build up your hearer rather than pulling him down. You will encourage and bless yourself and your hearer.
Proverbs 16:24 says “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
As you do so, you are showing your faith in action, and this is “true” religion. James 1:26-27 says “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
So choose life and not death. Allow the light of Christ to shine through you in your words and your deeds, bringing all glory to God. Amen! Matthew 5:16 says “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
So, go forth and shine your light by taking captive your thoughts, having a clean heart, speaking life, and by doing so, glorifying God who rescued you, transformed you and called you to be a light amid the darkness. May your tongue produce fruit in accordance with your salvation.