Summary: The little fox of sinful speech traps many believers and ruins their witness.

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Song of Solomon 2:15 KJV Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

Ephesians 4:29 KJV Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV 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.

Ephesians 4:29 MSG Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Ephesians 4:29 NASB Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 Moffatt NT Let no bad word pass your lips, but only such speech as is good for edification, as occasion may require, words that are gracious and a means of grace to those who hear them.

Ephesians 4:29 J B Phillips Let there be no more foul language, but good words instead—words suitable for the occasion, which God can use to help other people.

Ephesians 4:29 NLT Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.


Thomas Manton—The tongue had need to be restrained with force and watchfulness, for it is quick and ready to bring forth every wicked conception. You must not only watch over it, but bridle it; it is good to break the force of these constraints within us, and to suffocate and choke them in the first conception.

Bishop Stevens—You can sooner make the condor of the Andes perch upon your wrist; you can sooner make leviathan sport with you in the cresting surf; you can sooner make the boa-constrictor coil harmlessly around your neck; you can sooner make the lion so gentle that a little child can lead him , the tame the tongue; for the “tongue can no man tame.”

A. Biblical References to Sinful Speech in Proverbs

The Bible is full of exhortations and admonitions concerning the tongue. In the book of Proverbs there are around sixty warnings and instructions of various kinds concerning the tongue. We find in Proverbs some of the following descriptions of the tongue and words in general:

• A lying tongue—Proverbs 6:17; 12:19; 21:6; 26:28

• A tongue of flattery—Proverbs 6:24; 28:23

• The tongue of the just—Proverbs 10:20

• A froward (disobedient; opposing) tongue—Proverbs 10:31

• The tongue of the wise—Proverbs 12:18; 15:2

• A wholesome tongue—Proverbs 15:4

• A naughty tongue—Proverbs 17:4

• A perverse tongue—Proverbs 17:20

• The tongue is powerful—Proverbs 18:21

• A kept tongue—Proverbs 21:23

• A soft tongue—Proverbs 25:15

• A backbiting (mean; spiteful) tongue—Proverbs 25:23

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