Summary: Scripture and illustrations showing the danger of the human tongue.

PROVERBS 18:19-21 Life and Death are in the Power of the Tongue

18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

18:20 A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.

18:21 Death and Life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

GREEK PHILOSOPHER: Greek Philosopher asked his servant to provide the best dish possible. The servant prepared a dish of tongue, saying, "It is the best of all dishes, because with it we may bless and communicate happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair, cheer the faint hearted, inspire the discouraged, and say a hundred other things to uplift mankind." Later the philosopher asked his servant to provide the worst dish of which he could think. A dish of tongue appeared on the table. The servant said, "It is the worst, because with it we may curse and break human hearts; destroy reputations; promote discord and strife; set families, communities, and nations at war with each other." He was a wise servant.

It is easy for a husband and wife to upset each other with words. Sometimes intentional and sometimes not:

On their honeymoon, a groom took his bride by the hand and said, "Now that we’re married, dear, I hope you won’t mind if I mention a few little defects that I’ve noticed about you."

"Not at all," the bride replied with a deceptive sweetness. "It was those little defects that kept me from getting a better husband." (tou’shea)

Quarrels between close relatives are often the hardest to mend.

We sometimes say that a man has to eat his words. If they have been good words, they will yield satisfaction to him. He will be rewarded according to the nature of his speech.

My name is Gossip

I am more deadly than the screaming shell of the cannon. I win without killing. I tear down homes, break hearts, wreck lives. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea and often as innocent. I never forget and seldom forgive.

Even other religions are aware of the Power of the Tongue:

Pick Your Teeth!

It’s one of the greatest sins and yet it’s something we do day after day. Sometimes we don’t even realize it. You’re just chatting away with your friends and you begin to talk about somebody else. Our whole lives are based around ’Home and Away’ and ’Neighbors’, soaps based on lying, backbiting etc. But look at what the Prophet (saw) said about it: The Prophet (saw) was sitting with his companion’s one day and one of them was speaking badly about someone who wasn’t there. As the man got up to leave the Prophet (saw) said to him: "Pick Your Teeth!" "But I haven’t eaten anything." The man protested. "No" the Prophet (saw) said "YOU HAVE EATEN THE FLESH OF YOUR DEAD BROTHER". As Allah tells us in the Quran "Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? No, you would hate it." (Ch49: v12)

The tongue has great potential for good or evil. Those who love to use it a lot must be prepared to take the consequences. When used properly the tongue can mend fences, heal broken hearts and encourage those who are in need of encouragement.

General Robert E. Lee was once asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army -- an officer who had made some mean-spirited remarks about him. Lee thought for a moment, then rated him as being very satisfactory. The person who asked the question seemed troubled. "But general, I guess you don’t know what he’s been saying about you." "Oh yes," answered Lee. "I know. But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me."

Proverbs 10:20 The tongue of the just is as choice silver; the heart of the wicked is little worth.

Proverbs 31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life:

James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

My Favorite Poem about the TONGUE


Oh! Spirit of the living God

Control this tongue of mine

No knife is quite so sharp as words,

Yet words can be divine

A tongue not yielded to God’s will

Can stir up awful strife.

Lord use this tongue of mine today

To speak Thy words of life.

I want my tongue to sing God’s praise

To tell His love for me,

To speak God’s Holy name in prayer

And thanks for Calvary.

Lord help me that this tongue of mine

Shall speak Thy word in love,

That what I say will be Thy will

Directed from above

Oh! Holy Spirit, faithful guide

This tongue of mine inspire

That only words that please the Lord

Shall be my heart’s desire

So may I lead some soul to Christ

By spoken words or songs,

Then as God leads, do not forget

My tongue to Him belongs. -- Edward L. Crane

James tells us that the tongue is a flaming fire. The damage it can do could, if not cooled, last a lifetime. Satan will, at every opportunity, use the tongue to divide us and take our eyes off the prize, which is Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The Life Application Bible records these stats:

When our speech is motivated by Satan it is full of, …JEALOUSY, SELFISHNESS, DESIRES, DISORDER, EVIL.

When our speech is motivated by God and His wisdom it is full of, …MERCY, LOVE, PEACE, COURTESY, SINCERITY, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS.

Closing prayer:

Our Father, and our God. We love you. We praise you for you are worthy of our praise. Help us Father to use our tongues for Your Glory. Help us to honor you with our speech and to build each other up with words of kindness, encouragement, and faith. In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

R. Neal Gracey, Deacon, First Baptist Church of Saltillo, PA 17264