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Bible verses about Speech
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 59:12

Proud people also possess an unruly tongue that curses, lies, and offends. This complements Psalm 10:2 in that a proud person may not have the opportunity to "run over" somebody in business, but every proud person can boldly or carelessly run over others with his tongue.

Some people are abrupt, abusive, harsh, and overbearing with their tongue. Even though they may not physically attack other people, they leave them emotionally abused. Some complain ceaselessly, spreading a pall of negativism that makes others want to avoid them. Neither harshness nor negativism promotes oneness. We need to study how God says to use the tongue, but the cause of offenses that separate us is almost invariably inconsiderate, self-centered pride producing its divisive fruit through the tongue.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Proverbs 26:20

Talebearing usually involves slander, and slander feeds contention the same way wood feeds a fire. A slanderer uses falsehood to defame a reputation, which engenders conflict.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:22

Human nature greedily swallows gossip. God warns here that gossip is never superficial but that we thoroughly assimilate it to become part of us. Lies about others die hard because, in our vanity, we are so eager to elevate ourselves while mentally putting down another.

Here is a good maxim to live by: Never believe anything bad about a person unless you know it to be absolutely true; never tell it unless it is absolutely necessary; and remember, fear God, for He is listening while you tell it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:23

This verse to the end of the chapter speaks primarily of hypocrisy. Verse 23 describes a person who claims to be a friend yet deceitfully works against another through "clever" language. The lips "glitter," but the heart is false. Silver dross hides the reality of a clay pot just as clever words can hide a corrupt heart.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:24-25

This continues the thought in verses 22-23, but it focuses on friendly words concealing hatred until the person sees the chance to pull the other down. He may speak graciously, but be careful! This sounds similar to the way the media approaches public figures, who are fair game for every abominable accusation, though they are unsubstantiated.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Proverbs 26:26-28

These powerful words caution that one who indulges in activity like this will have his hatred exposed—and probably by the same means he has used on others!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Matthew 12:33-37

This is a strong statement from our Savior! The fundamental question is: "How Christ-like is our speech?" This is just one area out of the whole of our behavior. We will be judged for every word, even the idle ones that we may just toss off in a time of weakness or when joking around with friends. That is a pretty strict judgment.

Jesus speaks here in black-and-white terms. The tree (meaning the person) is either good—producing good fruit—or he is bad and produces bad fruit. Which are we—the good or the bad tree?

In verse 34, He says, "Out of the abundance of the heart we speak"—and we could add, "and act." Jesus says in Matthew 15:17-18 that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him. What comes out of a person will be either good things like service, love, kindness, and other fruits of the spirit, or bad things, the works of the flesh, which He names there.

So, what will it be with us? What is the abundance of our heart?

The picture here is that the heart is a kind of vessel—a bowl—and things are poured into the heart. At a certain point, the vessel will overflow, and an abundance will come out of it. What comes out of our heart—this bowl or vessel—will expose the characteristics of the heart.

When we pour information into our minds, we process it. For a while, it stays in the bowl, as it were, and becomes mixed with what has been put there before. Our minds work on it for a while, and over time, it begins to gel into certain ideas. Once our minds are full, ideas break out in words, plans, and behaviors. Evil thoughts within, evil speech and/or works without. Or, we can put it the other way around—godly, kind, Christ-like thoughts within, godly, kind, Christ-like speech and/or works without.

What breaks out of our hearts? We have to answer that ourselves. Do we have profane minds that spew out profane speech? Or, is it "on [our] tongue is the law of kindness" (Proverbs 31:26) because behind our tongues are pure and kind hearts?

This is vitally important because "by those words" we will either be justified or condemned. Our thoughts are just precursors to our speech and action.

So, where do we stand in relation to this line that Jesus Christ our Savior, our High Priest and Judge, has drawn? Are we a good tree or a bad one?

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Is God in All Our Thoughts?


 

Romans 1:26-32

What an indictment! Additionally, the moral slippage resulting from misconceptions about God affects dress: immodesty becomes common; language: speech becomes filthy and coarse; the arts: entertainment becomes base; family life: the home becomes divided—and the entire culture degenerates.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Seeking God (Part One): Our Biggest Problem


 

Philippians 4:8

What we think about will reveal itself in what we say. A mind fed by godly wisdom can follow this advice and control that most wild of all members, the tongue. As we grow in that great wisdom, our words will become fresh and reliable. We will lose the sharp edge from our tongues. Our speech will not be duplicitous, like grapes growing on a fig tree or bitter waters emerging from a freshwater spring.

Once we emerge out of the ruts of human habit in our communication, we will truly begin to express what is true, noble, pure, lovely, and good. Our words will convey virtue and offer praise to God, uplifting those who hear us. As James ends his third chapter, "Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:18), so will be the results of our efforts. Righteousness will come to fruition in an atmosphere of peace.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part Two)


 

James 3:1

James begins with a piece of general advice that leads to his main discussion of the use of the tongue. God holds us all accountable for what we have learned as well as how we instruct others. In the various situations of life, we are often both receiving instruction and giving instruction, so he warns that we need to examine ourselves closely and realize that God holds those accountable who would instruct or correct others, whether toward the brethren, our mates, our children, or our friends.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:1-8

What hope do we have as men if "no man can tame the tongue"? Mothers once washed their children's mouths out with soap for using bad language or expressing verbal disrespect. The entertainment media have made such words part of our households, schools, and workplaces. James' admonishment is not a soap-and-water application or a fatherly reprimand. His statements are blunt instruments: The tongue is as a vicious animal, whose words are capable of causing ultimate destruction, and it is as a creature of such monstrous character that no man can tame it.

As a kid, I loved to play "Cowboys and Indians," and when I heard "no man can tame the tongue," I imagined a tongue running around like a loose calf, with a cowboy on horseback riding frantically, trying to rope it down and tame it. It is a silly scene, but even now when I think about it, how accurately it pictures the feeling of trying to run after my own words and tame them after I have let them loose!

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:2

We all make mistakes—and probably a majority of them are verbal. The challenge before us is to learn to control our words and use them effectively in dealing with others. For followers of Christ, "effective use of words" is using them as Christ and the Father do. If we do anything less, we stumble and run the risk of offending.

So great is this challenge that, if we can master our tongue, we have in essence come to master our entire bodies. We could conclude from this that our bodies function as they are instructed. We instruct our bodies and minds through words, whether spoken or thought. In other words, the mind speaks, and the body follows. We lead ourselves, as well as others, with our words.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:5-6

James warns that the size of the tongue is no measure of the power it wields. Just as the tiniest of sparks can ignite a great forest fire, the smallest of words, unwisely spoken, can cause immeasurable harm.

Uncontrolled and untamed, without interference, a fire can spread to leave absolutely nothing untouched, unscorched, and unaffected. It is startling to think that fire, of itself, could erase all life from the earth! Were it to burn and spread unaffected by rain, wind, or the efforts of man, it could conceivably cover the earth and burn all life and all oxygen from our world.

Anyone who has witnessed a forest fire and seen flames leap from one treetop to another can grasp the traveling power of fire. James wants us to capture this graphic vision of the potential destruction our words perpetuated in sin can achieve. The iniquity created and perpetuated by words can spread to the ultimate of all damages: death. Solomon writes, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Proverbs 18:21). Does man have any other ability that can cause such a degree of devastation?

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 3:17-18

James concludes chapter 3 by describing the wisdom that comes only from Almighty God. It is the bit and rudder by which we can effectively gain control of our speech. Godly wisdom begins in the heart, replacing the self-indulgent human motivations with purity, peacefulness, gentleness, yieldedness, mercy, goodness, fairness, and sincerity. Words that employ these godly attributes contrast to the raging winds that fan flames of war toward total destruction. The apostle does not allow us any time to spend in the middle; our words should be fresh and trustworthy, without the bitter and shocking elements of a sharp tongue.

In Matthew 12:34, Christ says, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." The real issue is that our words reveal the essence of our hearts. They will tell whether we are motivated by the earthly wisdom of human desire or by the godly wisdom of the fruit of the Spirit. Unkind words reveal an unkind heart, and kind words, a kind heart.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part Two)


 

 




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