This wise saying addresses a perennial discussion in both the Old and New Testaments – our words. It’s also a perennial problem for me!
Of course, “the tongue” represents what we say and this verse notes “the power” our words have – “the power of life and death.” While that might sound a bit extreme, it effectively explains the impact of words.
Over the past decade, the men of Helping Up Mission have averaged about 18 years of active addiction and over 3 years of incarceration. Its a rough and tumble bunch of guys.
Yet when I ask in class how many still struggle with WORDS people spoke to them even 5 years ago, typically up to 40% of them will say yes. In fact, I imagine their inability to get past things people SAID is a major reason for their continued struggle with addiction.
The second half of this verse notes “those who love it”- that is, those who understand and appreciate the power of words – “will eat its fruit,” or will live with the benefits or consequences of our words. There’s a modern wise saying that says the same kind of thing, “live by the sword, die by the sword.”
I spent 12 years as a public high school track coach and now 14 years with the guys of HUM. I’ve learned to talk a little trash! But you know how it works – if you’re going to dish it out, you better be able to take it!
Of course, this verse mentions both “life” and “death.” While we tend to focus on the negative, the positive power and influence of our words is incredible! So let’s try to say some good things to someone who could use it today.