Of all creatures on this planet, only humans have the ability to communicate through the spoken word. The power to use words is a unique and extraordinary gift from God.
We know from Scripture that God spoke the world into being by the power of his words (Hebrews 11:3). Making us in his image, God has also designed our words to have real power beyond just conveying information. Proverbs 18:21 says, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue.’
One person who grasped this truth was Winston Churchill. In the dark days of 1940 when Britain stood alone against the Nazi regime, Churchill’s supreme achievement was to inspire the nation and infuse hope and self-belief almost entirely through the constructive power of his words.
He recognised that words are similar to seeds. By speaking them aloud, they are planted in our minds, growing and bearing fruit of the same kind.
Essentially, talk is verbalised thinking. What we say has a profound effect upon our feelings, actions, and accomplishments. Sports coaches often use this method to motivate their athletes to greater performances. But as the verse tells us, this principle has two sides, it works both positively and negatively. Consequently, this God-given gift carries with it an awesome responsibility.
The words tongue, mouth, lips, and words are mentioned in the book of Proverbs well over 100 times. The fact that so much importance is placed on our words tells us we must take care of what comes out of our mouths.
In James 3:6 we learn that the tongue is an instrument of exceptional potency, out of all proportion to its size. As a small fire can destroy an entire forest, so it is with the tongue. A sharp word, a callous remark, can be equally catastrophic.
Ill-chosen words can cause spiritual arson – a conflagration that can destroy individuals and even churches. In this intensely practical book James continues to say, ‘Control your tongue and you will control the rest of your body.’