Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Bad and good result from the power of speech; those who love speech will reap the consequences of how they use it. This proverb carries the weight of a warning to those who love to talk and those who skillfully use speech for bad ends. Sooner (usually) or later (for those who are skilled), one will eat the fruit of one’s wicked ends.

Over and again, the proverbs teach the power of the tongue for good and ill, and thus the necessity to exercise godly wisdom. Do not be quick to speak. Think before you do speak. Seek such a heart that the words which pour out of it will be good and true. Death and life are in the power of the tongue both for those who hear your words and you yourself.

Those of you who are given the gift of speech, such as teachers, trainers, preachers, and counselors, all the more you must use your gift wisely. For as you use your gift of speech, so your reward will be measured out to you, good or ill. The same holds true for anyone in a position of authority over others – parent over child, teacher over student, supervisor over employee, elder over church member. Your speech carries power for death or life. A momentary comment can lift up the spirits of a person that he will never forget; it can also tear him down and be a bitter memory.

Such power should humble us and lead us each day to pray for wisdom to use our tongues wisely and for good, and for mercy for the times we misuse them. Such power should lead us to the wise words of truth found in Scripture. For it is there that all words spring from and lead us to the life that is in Christ.

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