Death and life are in the power of the tongue

Last updated on May 30th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Photo of Robin Harris Kimbrough

Dr. Robin Harris Kimbrough

One of the first ways children communicate frustration is by sticking out their tongues. When sticking out the tongue, people are saying a lot without saying anything. It is rude to stick out our tongues. Yes, the tongue is powerful. The tongue has the power to heal, and it also has the power to hurt. Most of us have the problem the Fat Boys rapped about in their old school tune ‘You Talk too Much, You Never Shut Up!’ Sometimes it is good for the cat to have our tongue, so instead of talking we can do more listening. The proverbial statement is true: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (18:21). We need to remember the words of our teachers and elders, i.e., “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

This does not mean that we cannot offer people helpful criticisms or critiques, but it means that we have to say our words in love and in a loving manner. Our words should edify the people with whom we speak, and they should also reveal the goodness of God in the lives of others and in our personal situations. There is death and life in the power of the tongue. We must choose our words carefully. Sometimes we say things out of anger. When we speak out of anger, we don’t really mean it, and we end up hurting people we love and hurting ourselves. Other times we say things out of fear, because we fear telling the truth.

Even nice words can hurt if they are motivated by selfishness and with the intent to harm someone. How many times has someone told another, “I love you,” but the person does not even mean it? How many times do people say someone looks nice or offer encouraging words regarding someone’s behavior, but they really did not mean it? Death and life are in the power of the tongue. How many times has someone said “I’m sorry,” but did not mean it? We do not always say it right or get it right. For this reason we need the power of God to help us and correct us and to bridle our tongues. We do not always have to say something. It is better to plead the Fifth Amendment and remain silent, especially when we do not know what to say, and if what we will say may bring death to someone. The death to which the proverbial writer refers is both spiritual and physical. A persons words can tear someone down to the point that the person is dead spiritually.

The cliché that “sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not true. Words hurt, but words can also heal. A person’s words can literally kill someone physically. The news is replete with victims of bullying words who have killed themselves and others to cope with the harm words have caused them. There is death in the power of the tongue, but there is also life. We cannot take words back. Once they are in the atmosphere, they remain for a long time.

This is why it so important for us to speak positively over ourselves and over others. Our tongues must not speak poverty, brokenness, failure, or other negativities into our lives or the lives of others. Our tongues must speak victory, prosperity, and healing. Remember there is life in the power of the tongue.