Tongue of Fire

by Brandy Webb

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21).

You know the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Well, I don’t know who came up with the cliché statement, but they were definitely wrong. Words can hurt. Words are powerful. The tongue may be small, but one little spark can set a forest ablaze. How much can a tongue used unrighteously cause a “fire” (James 3:5-6)? We have to pay attention to the words that come out of our mouths.

“Rash words are like sword thrusts” (Proverbs 12:18a). It is easy to see a black eye, but it is not easy to see the internal scars of rash words.

“A harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1b). We can just watch the news for five minutes, and prove this statement as true.

“By what he says, the godless person can destroy his neighbor” (Proverbs 11:9a).

These are only a few scriptures that are in the Word of God that show the destruction of harsh, rash words. The thing is, in all these scriptures there is a flip side. Words of the wise “bring healing” (Proverbs 12:18b); a “soft answer turns away wrath (15:1a); “by knowledge the righteous are delivered” (11:9b).

Words can destroy or build up, break someone or heal them, cause a fight or bring peace. God created the Heavens and the Earth with His Word, and we were created in His image. Therefore, I deduce that our words hold a lot of power, also. We may not be able to create something from nothing, but obviously we can either speak words of life or words of death to others.

I wonder how many fights, separations, endings of friendships, etc., were started because of words. A wise person knows when not to speak. Now, I’m not saying we can’t defend ourselves. I am saying that we must be wise in our speech. If we are about to say something in a fit of anger, it is probably not the right thing to say. We have to remember there is never a justification for hateful speech, and once those words are out, we can’t take them back. We can apologize, but the damage is still done. Some of the damage may heal, but the scar may always be there. Therefore, maybe we should try to live by another cliché motto: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”


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