The Power of the Tongue

The tongue is mighty, even though it is but a small member of our body. Death and life are...

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21


The tongue is mighty, even though it is but a small member of our body. Death and life are released when the fruit of our lips is imparted to others; and more than that, the words that we speak over ourselves have an equally potent power. It is therefore essential that every believer is conscious of what comes out of our mouths. For we either minister life, or we work death by the words we speak. This isn’t to say that language is only on these polar opposites of the spectrum, because casual conversation that is harmless does exist — and so does idle chatter. Therefore, we must be vigilant to guard our tongues regardless because Matthew 12:36-37 warns us — But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”


Jesus gives us a stark reality about the consequences of our word choices. Every word that proceeds from our mouth matters in heaven. It is with words that we can build others up, or tear others down. Our thought life, which consists of internal words often unspoken in the outer atmosphere, can hurt us and even others. How can that which is unspoken hurt others? Conversations that occur in our minds impact our attitude and behavior towards others. I know what you think about me by the way you treat me, and you need not say a single word. Your attitude manifests itself, no matter how good one is at attempting to cover up. That is why we must manage the thoughts of our heart in the same way that we are careful about the words that proceeded out of our mouths.


A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 


The fruit that our mouth produces comes from the treasure that is stored within our heart. Each day we store up treasure that is evil or good, so that the fruit of our lips is either sweet or bitter; poison or life giving. Whatever is stored in our heart, comes out of our mouth. So then the tongue is a conduit for the heart and the mouth. This is a spiritual flow that God designed for His people to discern good and evil — hear what the Lord Jesus says in Matthew 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.


If I say the right thing, and do the wrong thing, which really reflects who I am? Jesus uses an illustration of a prophet to distinguish between that which is false versus that which is true. The behavior that Jesus describes adds a dimension of discernment when judging a prophet that is often missed, because we measure the authenticity of a prophet by the accuracy of their prophecy. Rightfully so, according to Deuteronomy 18:21-22 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.


Notice in verse 21 where the conversation starts “ And if you say in your heart,” — what are you saying in your heart? Whatever is in our heart will come out of our mouth. The dimension of discernment introduced by Jesus, allows us to judge ourselves, control our tongues (if we are conscious), judge good and evil, and even the words of a prophet according to the scripture. What is in your tongue today? Will you speak death or life to yourself and others? Remember, conversations begin in the heart, so let us draw from good treasure today and speak life to everyone we encounter.


My prayer is that you will examine your treasure today, to know whether it is good or evil. If you find any evil treasure in your heart, cast it out so that the words you speak will build others up and minister life. The only power we want in our tongue is life. Now let us pray together — Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.


Follow Rev. Bob Oliver on Facebook at or on Instagram @reach1more