The Old Testament
The Bible declares that believers can actually speak life for their words have power (Proverbs 18:21). If they use their words in harmony with the will of God to bless, comfort and share the gospel, the tongue can do great good. But if they do the opposite, they can achieve great harm. “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18), but “how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23).
Positive words build while negative words ruin the heart and mind as they sap physical and mental energy and upset the spiritual life. “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
Solomon wrote, “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life” (Proverbs 10:11). Words of wisdom, encouragement, and instruction give healing. Like a refreshing stream these words, if received and heeded by others, it bring regeneration and growth. It is a privilege for the righteous to be described as a well of life, for God Himself is said to be a fountain of living waters (Psalm 36:9; Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:14; 7:38).
The wise man added that those that speak life, will reap great rewards, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:20–21). The righteous will be rewarded for both his good speech and the work of his hands (Proverbs 12:14).
The New Testament
Christ taught that a man’s words are, to a greater or lesser degree, a mirror of his thoughts. A man’s words betray his thoughts: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:34–37). And those that use their words to harm others, the harm will return upon them (Matthew 12:36)
James wrote about the power of evil words spoken by the tongue, “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell…no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing” (James 3:1–10). But while man is incapable of controlling his tongue on his own strength, God’s gives him the power to do that. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Profanity and obscene jests, even joking and tasteless conversation, should not be used by the believers. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
The Lord admonishes His children to speak life, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). Hand in hand with the believer’s way of life go the words he speaks. Especially is this true in his dealings with the non-believers (v. 5). Not only the words he speaks, but the way he says them, and even the tone of his voice, make an impact for good or evil on those whom he associates with. Hence, the words should be well thought of.
In His service,