This week Pastor Chris continued in our study of Proverbs, sharing a word on the power of the tongue. Chris expressed how the words we choose to speak will reveal how wise we truly are. The Bible likens the tongue to a fire while the world seeks to minimize and trivialize the significance of our speech. The words we speak carry immense power for either healing or destruction, life or death. Corrupting words will corrode our relationships if we do not learn how to guard our mouths.
“I used to read five psalms every day – that teaches me how to get along with God. Then I read a chapter of Proverbs every day and that teaches me how to get along with my fellow man.” Billy Graham
James 3:4–5 (ESV)
4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
James 3:5–6 (ESV)
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
Proverbs 12:18 (ESV)
18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
The Four Tongues
- The Controlled Tongue: Those with this speech pattern think before speaking. They know when silence is best and give wise advice. This tongue chooses to listen to the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 10:19 (ESV)
19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
Proverbs 11:12–13 (ESV)
12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. 13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
Proverbs 12:16 (ESV)
16 The vexation of a fool (idiot) is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
Proverbs 13:3 (ESV)
3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)
1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:4 (ESV)
4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 15:28 (ESV)
28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
2. The Caring Tongue: Those with this speech pattern speak truthfully while seeking to encourage. The caring tongue always uses candor.
Proverbs 12:25 (ESV)
25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 16:24 (ESV)
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 25:15 (ESV)
15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.
Proverbs 27:9 (ESV)
9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
3. The Conniving Tongue: Those with this speech pattern are filled with wrong motives, gossip, slander, and a desire to twist the truth. Their speech is crooked.
Proverbs 6:12–14 (ESV)
12 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, 13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, 14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
Proverbs 8:13 (ESV)
13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
Proverbs 16:28 (ESV)
28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Proverbs 18:8 (ESV)
8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Proverbs 25:18 (ESV)
18 A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.
Proverbs 26:20–28 (ESV)
20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. 21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. 22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. 23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; 25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; 26 though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. 28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
4. The Careless Tongue: Those with this speech pattern are filled with lies, curses, and quick-tempered words. These words can lead to rebellion and destruction.
Proverbs 10:18 (ESV)
18 The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.
Proverbs 10:32 (ESV)
32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.
Proverbs 6:16–19 (MSG)
16 Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: 17 eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, 18 a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, 19 a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family.
- Speak Less
Proverbs 17:28 (ESV)
28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
- Speak Honestly
Proverbs 12:19 (ESV)
19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Proverbs 24:26 (ESV)
26 Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.
- Speak Fittingly
Proverbs 15:23 (ESV)
23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!
Proverbs 25:11 (ESV)
11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Proverbs 16:1 (ESV)
1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
- Pastor Chris likened the tongue to a rudder on a ship, directing your path. How do our words direct our lives?
- Chris shared his belief that our words will expose the level of wisdom in our hearts. Do you agree?
- Why do you think we gossip? What underlying heart issues can be at the root of a gossiping tongue?
- What is the antidote for a conniving or careless tongue?
- Which do you need to grow in: speaking less, speaking honestly, or speaking fittingly (at the right time)? How can you practically grow in this area?
- Which of the 4 tongues most closely reflects yours (controlled, caring, conniving, careless)? Determine which tongue you have and which you’d like to have. Ask the Lord to give you what you need to accomplish this.
- Do you struggle with gossip or slander? Practice the discipline of saying less this week unto rooting these ungodly habits out of your heart.
- Ask the Lord to reveal any areas you need to repent of. These can include white lies, half-truths, slander, gossip, or curses you’ve spoken recently.
- Ask the Lord to reveal any areas you need to forgive. These can include words others have spoken over, toward, or against you. Choose to forgive the person by name and declare words of life over them this week.
- Luke 6:45 says “. . .out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Meditate on this verse this week and ask the Lord to reveal any areas of your heart that are unaligned with the Lord.