The Tongue: A Deadly Weapon

Remember the saying “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” that you used to hear as a child? Well, words can hurt, as anyone on the receiving end of gossip or lies can testify. You’ve probably seen how involved some people can get passing on the latest juicy gossip about a neighbor or friend. But God takes a dim view of using words in this manner.

Proverbs 18:8 describes gossip in various ways, depending on which version of the Bible we study. The King James Version says, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” The Amplified Bible says, “The words of a whisperer or talebearer are as dainty morsels; they go down into the innermost parts of the body.”  The Message version asks, “Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?”

Looking at this Scripture in the Common English Bible and God’s Word Translation of this Scripture, we see similar terms. God considers gossip and destructive talk as “choice snacks” that are “swallowed greedily.” So this tells us that when we give in to the temptation of sinning with our tongue, it can be deliciously fun for the moment, but the results are long-lasting. Gossip and slander are actually ways we exalt ourselves over another person, which is just plain wrong.

In the Old Testament, David—who was known for his wisdom and faithfulness—wrote about gossip and slander. “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile” (Psalms 34:13). “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure” (Psalm 101:5, NKJV). Unlike animals, God blessed us with the power of human speech. We have a choice whether we use that speech to build up others for His glory (Ephesians 4:29), or tear them down and speak evil.

Our speech habits ultimately begin in our minds. Whatever thoughts we entertain and dwell on eventually become strong, before moving down into our hearts and affecting what we say. Sometimes we can surprise ourselves when we “mouth off” and then wonder where those ugly words came from. There is a clear connection between what’s in our hearts and what comes out of our mouth. “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips” (Proverbs 16:23).

The Scriptures illustrate for us how God wants us to speak. “Liars secretly hoard hatred; fools openly spread slander. The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words. The speech of a good person is worth waiting for; the blabber of the wicked is worthless. The talk of a good person is rich fare for many, but chatterboxes die of an empty heart” (Proverbs 10:18-21, MSG). God can see right through us, and when we speak deceitfully, we still can’t hide from Him what’s in our hearts. But when we speak the truth in love, what we say lines up with His Word.

Both blessings and curses come out of our mouth. In the beginning, God used the power of speech to create the heavens, the earth, and everything in it. When He made humanity, He spoke a blessing (Genesis 1:28). We can decide for ourselves how we use our speech, and it’s up to us whether we make the right or the wrong choice.

— Creflo Dollar