The Power of Death and Life
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" ~Proverbs 18:21
Recently, I spent time with a person who spoke with a negative outlook on everything. Every life experience for this person pointed back to these core beliefs:
- There is no good in the world
- God is not in control; human choices always determine outcomes
- Everyone has a better life than I do
- The “good ol’ days” are the gold standard for a happy life
- We can only expect for things to get worse
- I know how things ought to be, better than anyone else
The defeat I felt reminded me of the time back in “the bad place” (you can read my story HERE) when accusatory, demeaning, critical, adversarial words were intentionally used to undermine my reality, second-guess my motives, deceive me, tear me down, and destroy me from the inside out. Because I was in a relationship that was supposed to be built on trust, I internalized my adversary’s words and believed them. Nearly three decades of verbal abuse landed me in the emergency room, where I literally thought I was going to die.
Is it amazing to you that God gave us weak humans the power to kill or bring life in one small body part, the tongue? No wonder He warns us in James 3:8: "No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
Matthew 15:18 tells us why we say the things we do: "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person." The things we say with our tongues come from our heart beliefs and core values.
"The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45
Before God did radical heart transformation in me, I was critical, judgmental, controlling, perfectionistic, manipulative, passive-aggressive, negative—all the things that bring death to others. I did more than my share of damage. By God’s grace, He helped me to see that my core beliefs needed to change so that my words to others would change, too. He gave me a good heart “treasury”:
- God is in control, always
- God is always working for our good and His glory
- I can trust God with all outcomes
- Jesus came that I can have abundant life
- God has given me all I need for life and godliness
In his book Integrity, Dr. Henry Cloud asks you to imagine yourself as a boat. What kind of wake do you leave? Is it choppy and agitated, or is it smooth and gentle? Think about people in your life—do they leave chaos or peace in their wake?
What kind of wake do your words leave? If death and life are in the power of the tongue, how should we rethink what’s going on in our hearts, that spills out in our words to others?
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©Julie Knapp 2022, 9.19.22, All Rights Reserved