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The Power of the Tongue

by Katherine Kehler 

The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Proverbs 18:21).

Do you have an encourager? Someone who makes a point of encouraging you? A person like that brings life to your spirit. Besides my husband, my sister-in-law, June, is my encourager. She inspires me to be the best I can be. I feel energized when I am with her. I’ve never had too much encouragement - have you?

But we all have our share of discouragers as well. A hateful tongue-lashing will do it every time. Someone who hurt you and made you feel like a loser?

For several years I worked with someone organizing outreach events to help reach leadership women in Vancouver. She was sophisticated, influential and a hard worker. Most of the time she was sweet and fun and very effective; however, when things didn’t go her way, she would launch into a deadly tongue-lashing and I would be at the receiving end. I would leave our meeting feeling completely defeated.

Soon I realized I was not the only one who was on the receiving end of these tirades - it was a pattern she had developed. Most of her friends and family began avoiding her. Her deadly tongue brought about the death of many friendships.

Someone said you have to receive at least five compliments to make up for every criticism.

We can build up or we can tear down with our words. Every time we speak we have that power. It is our choice how we are going to use it - for life or for death. We are all guilty of saying hurtful things in a moment of anger or retaliation. (Maybe now would be good time to make a list of the people we have hurt and plan to apologize). On the other hand, we feel good about ourselves when we encourage people and so do they.

This is what James wrote about our tongue:

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:5).

Consider the words of Proverbs 12:18:

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 25:15:

“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.”

Let’s not make excuses for losing our temper and saying hurtful things. Take the time to confess your sin to God and the person you hurt. Decide today to be an encourager.

Father, you give life to us all. Jesus gave His life for all. Enable us to allow Your life to flow through us to those we meet each day. Amen.


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