Life and Death are in the Tongue

The tongue is a mighty instrument for good or for evil. Solomon reminds us that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.”

There is life in it when it speaks a word in season to him who is weary, when it drops into the ear an accent of kindness, when it speaks of Jesus’ love and compassion to a sad and mournful heart, when it quotes a promise of God to a dejected, disconsolate mind, and when it gives utterance to thoughts that elevate, to counsels that guide, to the breathings of encouragement and sympathy. Oh, what life is there in the faculty of speech when, holy, wise, and gentle, it is employed for the good of our fellows and for the glory of God!

There is death too in the power of the tongue when it is employed as an instrument of evil by the whisperer, the backbiter, the slanderer, the tale-bearer, the untruthful- death to reputation, death to character, death to usefulness, death to happiness. The poison of asps may be under the tongue, and death to some injured one may be the consequence! This thought finds a yet more awful illustration in his case who, as a professed minister of Christ’s gospel, gives utterance to doctrines fatal in their tendency and effect to the well-being of souls.

God holds us responsible for the use of this faculty, for He writes, “By your words shall you be justified, and by your words shall you be condemned.” Oh, see that your speech is seasoned with grace, administering instruction and edification to the hearer. Let no corrupt thing, no false doctrine, no untruthful statement, no harsh, unkind, unsympathizing, heart-wounding word flow from your lips. Speak for God, for Christ, and for souls.

– Octavius Winslow

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