“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words with out a heart.” John Bunyan (1628 – 1688)
The tongue is a small part of the body. But when allowed to act freely, it can bring on a world of destruction. Words guide the entire course of every life and possess the power to light it on fire. Today’s culture throws out rash words without a second thought. Social media keeps a track record of all the careless posts, texts and tweets plastered up for any interested eye to read. Once announced, there’s no real way to take a statement back. In some ways, our words are like creatures that fly. They drift into the distance and leave us no way of knowing the many places they will land. However, they are unique in that once released, they are impossible to retrieve. (Concept from a Russian proverb). We are known by our words. They expose the condition of our hearts and can lead towards life or death.
Matthew 12:33-37 shows the extent to which words impact individual futures – Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 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.
We’re aware that what our tongues produce is of utmost importance to the Lord. But what can we do to regularly produce good fruit through our speech? One simple and productive step is to talk less. The foolish use miles upon miles of words while possessing no destination. Whereas the wise use few words that lead in the direction of knowledge and life. When I see someone hold back a statement that I know is dying to be released from their lips, I feel that I’m witnessing true wisdom in action. Words can be hurtful, cause dissension and make us look incredibly foolish. Many times it’s best not to speak at all and instead remain silent. It’s God’s job to avenge and He will in His perfect time. The Lord looks with fondness upon those who practice self control in their speech. Statements that don’t build others up are not worth saying at all. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4). Do you think God observes you with joy when you allow corrupt talk to pour forth from your lips? If so, you have been deceived. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? (James 3:10-11).
God formed our bodies with two ears and one mouth for a reason – it would be a good decision to take the hint. The moment we cease listening to wise instruction we stray away from true knowledge. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2). After all, if no wood is added to a fire, the flame will die. In the same way, if no harsh words are added to a heated conversation, the disagreement will subside. (Concept in Proverbs 26:20-22). Any married person knows that middle ground will never be discovered if both parties refuse to listen and only wish to speak
So the question needs to be asked: Why did He even create us with tongues? Let’s look at a couple of Jesus’ disciples for an example. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13). When proclaiming Christ and the kingdom of God, we are to speak boldly and without hindrance! If we ask for the words to give out the saving message of Jesus effectively, He will give them to us. When is the last time you asked that of God?
We’re also instructed to edify and build one another up. A kind word given at the right time can instill confidence in someone who formerly never possessed it. An encouraging statement prompted by the Holy Spirit can give someone the courage to move forward in a ministry when tempted to give up.
Words can break down, lead astray, cause strife and destroy. They can edify, give life, show grace and spread love. How drastically this world would change if we attentively listened and prayed before allowing our mouths to open.