“The tongue has the power of life and death”- Proverbs 18:21 You can say this in both spiritual and physical senses. Will your words bring people to Christ by sharing the gospel and through your behaviour? (see 1 Timothy 4:12) Will you turn people away from a life with Christ? In your physical realm do your words build people up rather than drive them towards death? The power of a single voice has proven powerful many times throughout history. John the baptist’s preaching, Martin Luther King’s reform, the voice of a political leader (good or bad).
The Bible says, by the fruit of their lips people will be filled with good things (Proverbs 12:14). It also confirms that the evildoers are trapped by their sinful speech. The tongue is the little thing that corrupts the whole body as illustrated in James 3:3-12,
“If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.
Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, 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 things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,and set on fire by hell.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and saltwater?
Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”
No man alone can tame the tongue but God can help us improve in ourselves. Evaluate yourself, is what I did in line with God’s Word? If not, change your approach and apologize. For 1 Timothy 5:1-2 says “You should not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”. Consider the elderly men and women’s experience but also how culture may be different now versus then, consider the younger men’s lack of insight and help them in kindness for you were once like that young man, and the younger women are alike but also have a very different position in life so empathize with them. If problems persist and to avoid future problems consider Titus 3:9-10. In the end, stay away from foolish talk, crude jokes, and deceitful speech (Proverbs 4:24) . Let our words be filled with grace and truth so it can build up those who hear, not tear them down (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Here is a prayer you can say when you find guarding your tongue difficult,
“Set a guard over my mouth O Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3). Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:4)”