[PC-USA] 1999-11-14 - Passages About Our Words

If you are a user of AOL, you can "unsend" messages to other AOL users. So if you want to edit a letter, write something in the heat of anger, etc., you can "take it back." But we cannot retrieve words spoken out loud. Words can kill the spirit or heal the spirit. They can edify or they can demolish. Here is a bit of what God's word has to say about our words.

The Power of the Tongue

James 3:4-10 (NRSV) Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue--a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.

Contrast Between Edifying Words & Destructive Words

Prov 15:2 (NRSV) The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Prov 15:4 (NRSV) A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Eph 4:29 (NRSV) Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

Prov 12:18 (NRSV)  Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Eph 5:4-6 (NRSV) Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient.

Warning Against Futile Words

Eccl 5:3 (NRSV) For dreams come with many cares, and a fool's voice with many words.

Mat 6:7 (NRSV) When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Father, help us to remember the power of our words, and may our tongues be guided by You.