Words have power so what top Bible verses are written that talk about the power of words?
The Power of the Tongue
James 3:5b-8 “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 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. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.”
The tongue, even though among the smallest of all the members of the body (James 3:5) can do the most damage. I remember hearing words like “You can’t do that. You’ll never amount to nothing. You are so worthless” and those words stuck long and went deep. The old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” is completely untrue. Wounds from sticks and stones can heal but often words wound us deeper than any superficial wounds and are sometimes next to impossible to heal.
The Power of Life and Death
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
We have already read what James says about the tongue and the power there is in that small member but when we read the word “tongue” we know that this is speaking about words. Anytime you read the word tongue just put “words” where you see it because it is essentially the same thing. There is death and life in the tongue or in words. A parent can do great harm to a child and that harm can easily follow them throughout their life. They can either live up to or down to the words that a parent speaks. I have a small prison ministry and almost every man tells me that his parent, either his mom or dad, hurt them deeply by the words that came out of their mouth. Sometimes it is the words that are not spoken that can be just as harmful like never hearing “I love you, you are special,” and “I am so proud of you.” The words that are omitted can be just as deadly as the words that are committed to the ears of a child and of course this applies to grown children and to all people in general.
Words can Condemn or Justify Us
Matthew 12:36-27 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
When my children were young, I reminded them to guard their tongue because once words left their mouth, they can never be retrieved. What goes out cannot come back. Jesus warns us to be careful with what we say to others because they can come back to haunt us…at the Judgment Day. He says that for every careless or idle word we speak, we will be judged or condemned by them. By our own words we “will be justified” or we “will be condemned.” Words can help or they can harm. We should be measuring our words carefully because we will have to give an account for them someday.
Our Words Reveal What’s in our Hearts
Matthew 12:33-35 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”
I know of someone who claims to be a Christian but swears regularly and uses profanities in about every other sentence. What a shame. How someone can claim to be Christ’s and yet takes His name in vain and swears, using His name by placing “damn” for God’s last name is beyond me to understand. It’s true that I don’t know His heart but Jesus is saying that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” which means our words reveal what is in our heart. Sadly, Jesus says that many, not a few, but many will say to Him “Lord, Lord” to Him yet He will say “Depart from me you evil doers” for “I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23). He didn’t say “I didn’t know you well” or “I didn’t really know you” but I never knew you. This is one of the most serious and frightening statements that Jesus made.
Distance Yourself from All Corrupt Communication
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Far too many believers attack other believers over non-essential issues on biblical doctrine. We use the Word of God, which is described as a sword, against other believers (Heb 4:12). Some of the worst persecution I have ever received has been from others who claim to be Christ-followers but their mouths are anything but uplifting, edifying, exhorting or encouraging. The Word is like a sword that cuts deep down to the bone but when we use our own words to do this, it doesn’t help Christians but harms them and actually destroys their testimony for Christ to both believers and unbelievers.
Words can Deadly
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
This is closely related to Ephesians 4:29 except that it gives us a more vivid description of what words can do…particularly rash words or words spoken in anger. Words have meaning and they can be spoken too quickly and can be like a sword thrust into the heart of the hearers. The tongue of the wise, on the other hand, can bring healing. God’s Word cuts like a knife but this is in order to heal, but rash and harmful words never do this…they bring irreparable harm to the one that they are spoken to. Proverbs 13:3 is so true that “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” We must realize that “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1).
Guard our Words
Proverbs 13:3 “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
I believe that God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a very good reason; we ought to be listening twice as much as we speak. No one learns anything from speaking but wisdom and knowledge come by hearing. A person who guards their mouth will preserve their life but whomever “opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
Jesus is the Word of God (John 1) and He gives us the Words of life. Jesus said “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe” (John 6:63b-64a). Are you one who doesn’t believe? If so, you will hear Jesus’ own words on Judgment Day (Rev 20:11-15) and you will be judged according to your works. Since even our best works cannot save us (Eph 2:8-9) you must repent and put your trust in Christ today because Jesus said “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29).
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon