The Power of the Tongue

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Proverbs 18:20–21 (ESV)
20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Be Careful What You Say

James 35 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

James 3:3–6 (ESV)

3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 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. 5 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! 6 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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We really need to learn to guard our speech. Our words have a great power to do harm to others and ourselves. When we speak, there is always a response, even when words are not returned. We can hurt others or encourage them. We can gain the respect of others or lose it. We can gain a friend or lose one. The power of our words cannot be overstated.

We read James’ words about taming the tongue and we likely agree with him, but many of us fail to do anything about it. Of course, we may be careful in what we say face-to-face, but how many of us are guarded about what we say in our texts or emails? How guarded are we in our tweets or Facebook posts? How quick are we to share our thoughts or opinions without even thinking or caring about how those things will impact others? How often do we do those things because we are fully aware of how they will effect others? The words we type are no different than the words we speak. They have the power to do great good, but they also have the power to set the whole forest ablaze with the fire of hell.

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