Making life Matter: Words – Life or Death


Photography by Melinda Maidment

A while ago I had a conversation with someone at work about how we say things. At one point in the conversation I mentioned the saying: “Learn from the mistakes of others, for life is too short to make them all yourself.” When the person said: “What a negative way of looking at it, how about saying learn from the experiences of others…”, this really got me thinking…

Lately, the Lord has been talking to me about making my life matter. I was challenged with making my thoughts matter by having Philippians 4:8 thoughts. After the conversation I had at work, mentioned above, I really tried to add this to my thoughts challenge and change what I say and think to something positive. The other morning while all of this is in my head, God spoke to me again, this time about what I say and how I say it – my words.

When we get to a point of thinking kingdom thoughts, what we say will easily follow. However most of us are too quick to speak, before we can help ourselves we just say something that we did not really carefully consider and think about. It is almost like our mouths and minds are not connected to each other, as if they work independently. There are so many verses in the Bible about the tongue (feel free to share the scriptures you carry in your heart about what we say in the comments box below).

One of the most powerful verses for me about this topic is Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV):

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

I love this verse and use it a lot to keep myself in check, but I just got chills reading it again. This is actually such a powerful verse and should not be taken lightly. Whatever we let out of our mouths should actually also not be taken lightly. Let’s consider the various parts of this verse:

  • Death and life are in the power of the tongue
    • Death and life: We all know what these words mean, words that need a second or even third thought about. Death means it is over and done with, there is no more life. Take a moment to really consider the seriousness, depth and severity of these two words.
    • The power of the tongue: We often do not think about or realise the power of the spoken word, until we are hurt of affected by someone else’s words. David could not have said it any better than this – there is POWER in the tongue. (Is it a coincidence that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body for its size? I don’t think so – God is very precise and particular in His work.) The power that this small organ has can be either positive and good or negative and evil – LIFE or DEATH. We use our words too easily, too quickly, too loosely and too eagerly. We seldom think about the impact of our words. We are quick to speak our minds and criticise, especially what others say, yet do we ever really consider and criticise what we ourselves say or better yet before we let the words come out of our mouths?
  • And those who love it will eat its fruit
    • When we use our tongues there will be fruit. I think what David is trying to say in this part of the verse is if we love to talk and speak death over situations and people we will eat fruits of death (negativity/bad things), maybe not literally but you catch my drift. And the contrary is also true, if we speak life over situations and people we will eat fruits of LIFE (positivity)! Maybe we do not fully comprehend the POWER of words, but understand this: the Word says what you sow, you will reap – and this applies to what you say as well.

Should we all now use less words, talk less and rather keep quiet? Or should we rather be slower to talk in order to think about what we say first? Maybe we should take the saying ‘think before you speak’ to heart, and ask ourselves the question: is what I am about to say going to speak life or death? What fruit will I eat from saying these words? Does it meet the Philippians 4:8 standards? Does is meet God’s kingdom standards?

This may seem harsh, but I have been asking myself the question: What am I doing with my life? How can I make my life matter? And I need to start by getting my house (my mind and heart) in order. Getting my thoughts and words in order and aligning it with God’s Word. I cannot do this and still speak death.

James 3:9-12 (NKJV)

“With it [the tongue] we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”

We need to decide. We need to want to change before change will take place. I need to decide for myself and stick to it.  Here I am Lord, I want to change. I want only blessing to proceed from my mouth. I want to bring glory to God, and I can only do so if I speak LIFE!

You may be thinking, this is too hard, this is asking too much. Don’t give up before you’ve even tried. I watched a movie called ‘The game stand tall’, about a high school football coach with the longest winning streak in history. He used to say to his players: “We’re not asking you to be perfect on every play.  What we’re asking of you and what you should be asking of each other is to give a perfect effort from snap to whistle.”

None of us are perfect, and I am sure God is not expecting us to be perfect – but we can give a perfect effort every day in our walk with God. Make the decision to give a perfect effort to speak LIFE! Consider the magnitude of what you say and then the magnitude of the effect of what you say – let that magnitude be LIFE! Let’s make our lives matter by making our words matter.



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