Words matter. The power of the tongue is often underestimated, though modern culture — not to mention human history — is littered with examples that show just how much havoc careless words can wreak.
The old “sticks and stones will break by bones, but words will never hurt me” adage is nice in theory, but the reality is that many people face deep wounds due to the hurtful proclamations that come from those around them, including friends and loved ones.
Furthermore, negative, nasty and unrestrained language does serious damage to the person uttering it as well.
Mistakes and errors can happen amid anger, but the Bible makes it pretty clear how we should manage and contain our rhetoric. In fact, the scriptures are filled with scores of verses that should make us all pause and think a little deeper about what we’re spewing:
Here are some of those scriptures, presented via the New International Version of the Bible:
1) James 3:3-6:
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
2) 1 Peter 3:10
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
3) Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
4) Matthew 15:11
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
5) Proverbs 21:23
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
6) Matthew 12:33-35
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”