For the Lord’s day sermon on August 2, 2020, I compiled a list of verses describing the power of the tongue for good or for evil. As I considered what Scripture said about this, I was shocked by how glorious and devastating the tongue can be. To illustrate my point, I composed a paragraph summarizing the wise and righteous use of the tongue, and read it along side a paragraph summarizing the foolish and unrighteous use of the tongue. I pray that these summaries—containing phrases lifted directly from Scripture—will inspire you to use your tongue wisely and righteously for the glory of God.

A tongue used wisely and righteously – is the power of life (Prov 18:21), choice silver (Prov 10:20), is a bringer of healing (Prov 12:18b), commends knowledge (Prov 15:2a), is a tree of life (Prov 15:4), can sustain with a word those who are weary (Isa 50:4). It is pure, and serves the Lord (Zeph 3:9). It is a fountain of life that delivers from death (Prov 10:11). It preserves your life (Prov 12:6). The righteous ponder how to answer, and their mouths keep them from trouble (Prov 15:28, 21:23). A righteous mouth is open for the mute and for the rights of those who are destitute (Prov 31:8). It judges righteously and defends the rights of the poor and needy (Prov 31:9). It is discerning and persuasive (Prov 16:21) and wins him favor (Eccl 10:12). It is gentle and brings healing to the bones (Prov 15:30). It is good for building up, it fits the occasion and gives grace to those who hear (Eph 4:27). It sets a good example for the church (1 Tim 4:12), it is gracious and seasoned with salt (Col 4:6). It is truthful (2 Cor 6:7), faithful (2 Cor 1:18), righteous (Prov 8:8) and filled with the praises of the Lord (Ps 145:21).

A tongue used foolishly and wickedly – is the power of death (Prov 18:21), set against heaven (Ps 73:9), sword thrusts (Prov 12:18a), pours out folly (Prov 15:2b), breaks the spirit (Prov 15:4b), is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death (Prov 21:6). It is a deadly arrow (Jer 9:8), a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor 13:1), it is worthless (Js 1:26). The foolish tongue is a small member, boasting of great things, it is a world of unrighteousness, setting on fire the entire course of life, set on fire by hell. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison, concealing violence, and bringing men to ruin (Js 3:1-12). The mouth of the wicked pours out evil things (Prov 15:28). Foolish lips walk into a fight and invite a beating (Prov 18:6). They are your ruin and a snare to your soul (Prov 18:7), and the lips of fools consume them (Eccl 10:12). A foolish mouth is full of anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk (Col 3:8). It grumbles and is discontent following its own sinful desires. It is loud and boastful, showing favoritism to gain an advantage (Jude 16). Its beginning is folly and its end is evil madness (Eccl 10:13). It is harsh (Prov 15:1), foolish (Prov 15:2) and perverse (Prov 15:4).

May the Lord hear our prayer: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips (Ps 145:1)! “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts (Mal 2:7), and “you yourselves…[are His] holy priesthood” (1 Pet 2:5).

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash