Words carry immeasurable significance: The universe was created with words; Jesus healed and cast out demons with words; rulers have risen and fallen by their words; Christians have worshiped through words of song, confession, and preaching. Even in our technological age, politics, education, business, and relationships center on words. Since the tongue is such a powerful force—for good or evil—we are wise to ask: What would homes, churches, schools, or even the public square be like if we used words with Christian intentionality and eloquence?
Let’s consider some suggestions from Scriptures on helping to control what our tongues say.
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness (Proverbs 10:32).
The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness (Proverbs 15:2).
The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things (Proverbs 15:28).
According to Compton’s Encyclopedia, the total number of words in the English language is around 750,000. Of that number, guess how many words we habitually use—500 to 2,000 at the most—which represents only one half of one percent of the language. This could be why Proverbs 15 tells us to study to answer. The good man deliberates before he speaks and takes time to consider his answer, lest he should say anything false, inexpedient, or injurious to his neighbour. There is an old proverb which says: “Whate’er comes in your mind, deliberate; a hasty man but rushes on his fate.”
I love the Bible’s verbage for contrasting the wise man’s speech to the fool’s speech. The wise man studieth. This word gives the idea of meditation and thinking, whereas the fool poureth out. The word picture that comes to one’s mind is that of a fountain that is continually running or a pitcher of water that spews forth. We should be thinking before we speak.
“The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:1