They seem so small. They flow so easily. They can bring life or they can cause death.
I was listening to a sermon a few years back by an elder in my church, Ralph Lewis. A lot of my ideas and words here come from his sermon, More Than Words…It’s the Heart.
In Ecclesiastes 10:12-15 we see that,
“words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him;” (12)
Have you ever heard someone talking who is just spouting off nonsense? It’s as if he just enjoys hearing himself talk, and he goes on and on. His own words consume him.
“the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness”(13)
I’m thinking here of someone who devises evil plans. They just go from bad to worse.
“Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him?” (14)
I would encourage you to listen to speeches made by Hitler, and Mussolini to see how harmful our tongue can be. These speeches are filled with words stating that they have to declare war because the enemy is coming against their country. They must fight against the enemy because the honor of their country is at stake. Of course they neglected to mention that they had invaded other countries and that is why the enemy was coming against them. These words were filled with false hope, blame, and empty promises. They didn’t know the future, but boasted as if they did. And millions of people followed after their evil words that were filled with madness.
That’s what words can do.
“The toil of a fool so wearies him that he does not even know how to go to a city.” (15)
Can’t you just picture someone who tells one lie. Then he has to lie some more to cover that first lie. More lies have to be told to cover those lies. He works so hard trying to remember what he lied about (so that he doesn’t get caught by his previous lies) that he becomes exhausted and confused. He doesn’t know what lie to tell next.
I really liked how our elder described man’s words:
“Words are mighty and powerful – and yet they can be empty and weak. They can be kindly & gracious or mean & cruel…. They can unite nations and separate fools. They have the power to heal and the venom to wound. They can firmly build relationships up or recklessly tear them down. Words – They can encourage unto life or discourage to death. They can be tremendously meaningful or be feebly without breath.”
Words can bring a person to ruin. Just look at what happened on Facebook. Two young women had a “facebook”fight. Horrible words were written back and forth to each other and for all the world to see. One of the women told the other to go ahead and kill herself, that she was an unstable loser. That young girl ended up taking her life. My heart breaks that she listened to these foolish words, and I pray that the woman who said them will find the forgiveness she needs in Christ.
Proverbs 15:4 says, “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life – but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
On a future post, we will see how the tongue can bring healing and be a tree of life.