“Death & life are in the power of the tongue”(Pro.18:21)


A. Loving, wholesome speech has a great effect:

2Chr.10:7 – If thou be kind unto this people…& speak good words to them, they will be thy servants forever
Pro.15:1a – A soft answer turneth away wrath
Pro.15:23 – A word spoken in due season, how good is it
Pro.25:15 – By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, & a soft tongue breaketh the bone

B. Wise speech is health & life:

Pro.10:11a – The mouth of the righteous man is a well of life
Pro.12:18b – The tongue of the wise is health
Pro.15:4a – A wholesome tongue is a tree of life
Pro.16:24 – Pleasant words are…sweet to the soul, & health

C. Other points on wholesome speech:

Pro.8:6 – The opening of my lips shall be right things
Pro.14:3b – The lips of the wise shall preserve them
Pro.31:26b – In her tongue is the law of kindness
Eccl.10:12a – The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious
Jam.3:2 – If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect (complete, mature) man
(See also Psa.37:30; Pro.10:31; 15:7; 24:26; Mal.2:6,7.)

D. Speaking the right things at the right time:

Pro.10:32a – The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable
Pro.25:11 – A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver
Eccl.8:5b – A wise man’s heart discerneth both time & judgment

E. Speaking encouraging words to strengthen others:

Gen.50:21b – And he comforted them, & spake kindly unto them
Deut.3:28a – Encourage him, & strengthen him
Job 4:4 – Thy words have upholden him that was falling, & thou hast strengthened the feeble knees
Job 16:5 – I would strengthen you with my mouth
Isa.35:3,4 – Strengthen the weak hands…say to them, Be strong
Isa.50:4 – Speak a word in season to him that is weary

F. Speaking & talking about the Lord’s Word:

Deut.6:6,7 – Thou shalt talk of (the Word) when thou sittest…when thou walkest…when thou liest down…& risest up
Psa.119:172 – My tongue shall talk of Thy Word
Jn.6:63 – The Words I speak unto you, they are spirit, &…life
Eph.5:19 – Speaking to yourselves in psalms & hymns &…songs
1Pet.4:11 – If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God

G. Sharing testimonies about the great things God has done:

Psa.9:11 – Sing praises…declare among the people His doings
Psa.35:28 – My tongue shall talk of Thy righteousness & of Thy praise all the day long
Psa.66:16 – I will declare what He hath done for my soul
Psa.145:1-7, 10,12,21 – I will speak of…Thy majesty, & of Thy wondrous works…make known to men His mighty acts
Acts 12:17 – He…declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison
(See also Psa.37:30; 40:9,10; 71:17; Isa.12:4.)

H. Have a sense of humour & be able to laugh:

Pro.17:22 – A merry heart doeth good like a medicine (See also Pro.15:13,15)
Psa.126:2 – Then was our mouth filled with laughter (See Job 8:21)
(See also Gen.21:6; Eccl.3:4; 10:19a.)


Eccl.3:7 – [There is] a time to keep silence, & a time to speak

A. The dangers of speaking too much:

Pro.10:19a – In the multitude of words there wanteth (lacks) not sin
Pro.14:23 – In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury (poverty)

B. The wisdom of being slow to speak:

Jam.1:19 – Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak
Pro.18:13 – He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly & shame unto him
Eccl.5:2,6 – Be not rash (hasty) with thy mouth…wherefore should God be angry…& destroy the work of thine hands?
Jn.8:1-9 – [Example of Jesus avoiding being rushed into answering]

C. It is usually wise to speak little:

Pro.17:27 – He that hath knowledge spareth his words
Eccl.5:3b – A fool’s voice is known by multitude of words
(See also Mat.5:37)

D. It is often wise not to speak at all:

Job 13:5 – O that ye would altogether hold your peace. And it should be your wisdom
Pro.10:19b – He that refraineth his lips is wise
Pro.11:12b – A man of understanding holdeth his peace
Pro.17:28 – Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: & he that shutteth lips is…a man of understanding
Pro.21:23 – Who keepeth…his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles

E. Watch your words:

Psa.39:1b – To…sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me
Psa.141:3 – Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep…my lips
Pro.13:3a – He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life
Mat.12:36 – Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment

F. Keeping secrets:

Pro.11:13 – A talebearer (gossip) revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter
Pro.25:9 – Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; & discover (disclose) not a secret to another
Mic.7:5 – Keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom (See also Judg.14:15-17; 16:4-6; 15-21.)
Mat.9:30 – Jesus straitly charged them…See that no man know it
Mat.12:14-16 – (Jesus) charged them they should not make Him known
Mk.1:43-45 – See thou say nothing to any man (See also Mat.8:4a)
Mk.9:9,10 – (Jesus) charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen (See also Mat.17:9; Lk.9:36.)
Lk.8:56 – He charged them that they should tell no man what was done (See also Mk.5:43)
Lk.9:20,21 – He…commanded them to tell no man that thing (See also Mat.16:20)
Acts 23:22 – Tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me
(See also Josh.2:14,20)

G. Learning how to be quiet:

Job 6:24a – Teach me, & I will hold my tongue
1Thes.4:11 – Study to be quiet, & to do [mind] your own business

H. The foolish simply cannot keep their mouth shut:

Pro.15:2b – The mouth of fools poureth forth foolishness
Pro.20:3 – Honour…to cease…but every fool will be meddling
Pro.29:11a – A fool uttereth all his mind


A. An uncontrolled tongue will defile you & others:

Mat.15:11 – That which cometh out of the mouth…defileth a man
Mat.15:18 – Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; & they defile a man
Jam.3:6 – The tongue is…a world of iniquity…it defileth the whole body

B. A talebearing (gossiping) tongue is a fire:

Jam.3:5,6 – The tongue is a fire…it setteth on fire…& is set on fire of hell
Pro.16:27 – Ungodly man…in his lips there is as a burning fire

C. A slanderous, wicked tongue is deadly poison:

Jam.3:8 – The tongue…is…full of deadly poison
Psa.140:3 – Adders’ poison is under their lips
Eccl.10:11 – The serpent will bite without enchantment; & a babbler is no better
Rom.3:13b – The poison of asps is under their lips

D. A vainbabbling tongue destroys like cancer:

2Tim.2:16,17 – Profane & vain babblings…their word will eat as doth a canker (cancer)

E. A sharp, malicious tongue can inflict deep wounds:

Pro.12:18a – There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword
Pro.25:18 – Man that beareth false witness…is a maul, & a sword
Pro.26:22 – The words of a talebearer are as wounds, & they go down into the innermost parts (deep)

F. A malicious tongue destroys & kills:

Pro.11:9a – An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour
Pro.18:21 – Death & life are in the power of the tongue
Pro.26:28 – A flattering mouth worketh ruin

G. It destroys love & friendship:

Pro.16:28b – A whisperer (gossiper) separateth chief friends
Acts 14:2 – Made their minds evil affected against the brethren


A. Evil speech comes from an evil heart:

Pro.15:2b – The mouth of fools poureth out foolishness
Pro.15:28b – The mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things
Mat.12:35b – An evil man out of (heart) bringeth forth evil things

B. Evil, foolish speech corrupts & stinks:

Eccl.10:1 – Dead flies…send forth a stinking…so doth a little folly in him that is in reputation for wisdom
1Cor.15:33 – Evil communications corrupt good manners

C. The perverse (polluted) & froward (defiant) tongue:

Pro.8:13 – The froward (defiant, contrary) mouth do I hate
Pro.15:4 – Perverseness [in a tongue] is a breach in the spirit
Pro.26:18,19 – As a madman who casteth firebrands & death, so is the man that deceiveth…& saith, Am not I (joking)?

D. Foolishness & vain talk leads to mischief & ungodliness:

Pro.14:7 – Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge
Pro.15:14b – The mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness
Eccl.10:13 – The beginning of (his) words…is foolishness: & the end of his talk is mischievous madness
2Tim.2:16 – Shun profane & vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness

E. An uncontrolled tongue brings disaster:

Psa.109:17-20 – As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him
Pro.10:14b – The mouth of the foolish is near destruction
Pro.10:10b – A prating (idly chattering) fool shall fall
Pro.12:13a – The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips
Pro.13:3b – He that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction
Pro.17:20 – He that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief
Pro.18:7 – A fool’s mouth…& his lips are the snare of his soul
Eccl.10:12b – The lips of a fool will swallow up himself


A. Refrain from corrupt communication:

Pro.4:24 – Put away from thee a froward mouth, & perverse lips
Eph.4:29a – Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth
Eph.5:4 – Neither filthiness (obscenity), nor foolish talking, nor jesting, but rather giving of thanks
Col.3:8 – Put…filthy communication out of your mouth
1Tim.6:20a – Avoiding profane & vain babblings

B. Speak edifying things, not corrupt:

Eph.4:29 – No corrupt communication….but that which is…edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers
Col.4:6 – Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt
Tit.2:8 – Sound speech, that cannot be condemned
Pro.8:8,9 – All the words of My mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them
(See also Rom.15:2)

C. You can’t control your own tongue by yourself:

Jam.3:8 – The tongue can no man tame

D. Only God can, so yield to Him:

Psa.45:1b – My tongue is the pen of a ready writer [the Lord]
Pro.16:1 – The preparations of the heart of man, & the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord
Isa.50:4 – The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I…know how to speak [an encouraging] word
Lk.12:12 – The Holy Ghost shall teach you…what ye ought to say
1Pet.4:11a – If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God

E. Read & obey God’s Word, & let it change you:

Psa.119:9 – (How) shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed…to Thy Word
Jn.15:3 – Now ye are clean through the Word
Eph.5:26 – That He might sanctify & cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word
1Pet.1:22a – Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth
(See also Pro.6:20-23&; Heb.10:22.)


A. The Lord forbids you to gossip:

Lev.19:16 – Thou shalt not go up & down as a talebearer (gossip or slanderer) among thy people: I am the Lord
Exo.23:1a – Thou shalt not raise a false report
Eph.4:31 – Let all…evil speaking, be put away…with all malice
Tit.3:2a – Speak evil of no man
Jam.4:11 – Speak not evil one of another, brethren
1Pet.2:1 – (Lay) aside all malice, & guile…& all evil speakings

B. Warning against backbiting:

Pro.25:9 – Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; & [tell] not a secret to another
2Cor.12:20 – I fear…I shall not find you such as I would…lest there be…backbitings, whisperings

C. Gossiping shows a lack of true faith & love:

Pro.10:18 – He that uttereth a slander, is a fool
1Tim.5:11-13 – When they have begun to wax wanton against Christ…they learn to be…tattlers & busybodies
Jam.1:26 – If any man seem to be religious, & bridleth not his tongue…this man’s religion is vain

D. Gossiping is born of hatred:

Psa.38:12 – They that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, & imagine deceits
Psa.41:7 – All that hate me whisper together against me

E. Gossiping is of the devil:

1Tim.3:11 – So must their wives be grave, not slanderers [literally: " diabolos ", meaning false accuser, devil]
Rev.12:10 – [The devil,] the accuser of our brethren


A. Scriptural response to backbiters & talebearers:

Tit.1:10,11 – There are many unruly & vain talkers…whose mouths must be stopped
Psa.32:9 – [They] have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit & bridle
Pro.25:23 – Angry countenance (driveth away) a backbiting tongue

B. Part company with them if they don’t change:

Psa.101:5 – [King David said:] Whoso (privately) slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off
Psa.101:7 – He that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight
Pro.20:19 – He that goeth about as a talebearer (gossip) revealeth secrets: therefore [have nothing to do] with him
Pro.22:10 – Cast out a scorner, & contention shall go out
Pro.26:20 – Where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth

C. The Lord will judge them:

Mat.12:36,37 – Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment


A. Think about their virtues:

Phi.4:8 – Whatsoever things are…pure…lovely…if there be any virtue…think on these things
(See also Phi.1:3)

B. Remember the blessings for not backbiting:

Psa.15:1,3 – Who shall abide [before God]? He that backbiteth not…nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour
1Pet.3:10 – He that will…see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, & his lips (from) guile
Rev.14:5 – In their mouth was…no guile: they are before the throne

C. Make an effort to not speak evil:

Psa.17:3b – I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress
Psa.39:1a – I will take heed…that I sin not with my tongue
Pro.30:32 – If thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth [before you speak what you were thinking]

D. Don’t even think evil:

Psa.19:14 – Let the words of my mouth, & the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight
Eccl.10:20 – Curse not the king, no not in thy thought
Mk.7:21 – For out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts
2Cor.10:5 – Bringing…every thought to the obedience of Christ

E. You can’t speak good if your heart is full of evil:

Mat.12:34 – How can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh

F. Beware of hypocritical flattery:

Psa.12:2 – They speak vanity…with flattering lips & double heart
Psa.28:3 – Wicked…speak peace, but mischief is in their hearts
Psa.55:21 – The words of his mouth were smoother than…oil, yet were they drawn swords
Psa.62:4 – They bless with their mouth, but curse inwardly
Pro.26:23 – Burning (fervently agreeing) lips (with) a wicked heart are like (earthenware) covered with silver
Pro.26:25,26 – When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are…abominations in his heart
Ezk.33:31b – With their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness


Mat.7:1 – Judge not, that ye be not judged
Mat.7:2 – With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged
Mat.7:3-5 – Why beholdest the mote…in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not beam that is in thine own eye?
Jn.7:24 – Judge not according to appearance…but righteous
Rom.2:1,2 – Thou art inexcusable…wherein thou judgest another…for thou that judgest doest the same things
Rom.2:3 – Thinkest thou…that judgest…& doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
Rom.14:13a – Let us not therefore judge one another any more


A. Ignore it if you can; don’t be offended:

Eccl.7:21,22 – Take no heed unto all words spoken…thine own heart knoweth thou thyself likewise hast cursed others
Psa.119:165 – Great peace have they which love Thy (Word): & nothing shall offend them

B. Don’t speak evil of them in return:

1Pet.2:21-23 – Follow (Christ’s) steps…Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again (See also Isa.53:7,9)
1Pet.3:9 – Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing

C. Let your good works disprove their lies:

Tit.2:7,8 – Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is…contrary…(have) no evil thing to say of you
1Pet.2:12 – Whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, glorify God
1Pet.2:15 – With well doing…put to silence…foolish men
1Pet.3:16 – Having a good (way of life); that, whereas they speak evil of you…they may be ashamed

D. Jesus remained silent before His accusers:

Isa.53:7 – He was oppressed…yet He opened not His mouth
Mat.27:14 – (Jesus) answered him (Pilate) to never a word
Lk.23:9 – He (Herod) questioned Him (Jesus) in many words; but He answered him nothing
Lk.22:67,68 – [Jesus knew that answering His enemies was pointless]

E. But there are times to speak out & give answer:

Acts 21:40 – [Paul gave his defense to the mob in Jerusalem]
Acts 24:10 – [Paul defended himself from his accusers before Felix]
Acts 26:1 – [Paul's self-defense before Governor Festus & Agrippa]
1Pet.3:15 – Be ready always to give an answer to every man that [sincerely] asketh you a reason
(See also Mat.10:18-20)


A. Avoid getting drawn into arguments:

Pro.17:14 – Leave off contention, before it be meddled with
Pro.26:4 – Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him
Pro.29:11b – A wise man keepeth [his comments] in till afterwards
Phi.2:3 – Let nothing be done through strife
2Tim.2:24 – The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be patient
1Pet.3:9 – Not rendering evil (insult) for (insult), or railing (reviling) for (reviling): but contrariwise blessing
(See also 2Ki.18:36)

B. Listen carefully & think about what you say:

Pro.15:28 – The heart of the righteous studieth to answer
Pro.18:13 – He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly & shame unto him
Jam.1:19 – Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath

C. Don’t get provoked & answer rashly:

Pro.15:18b – He that is slow to anger appeaseth strife
Pro.16:32 – He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty
Pro.25:8 – Go not forth hastily to strive
Pro.29:20 – Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him
Eccl.5:2 – Be not rash with thy mouth…(nor) hasty to utter any thing…let thy words be few

D. Speak calmly:

Pro.15:1a – A soft answer turneth away wrath
Pro.22:11 – For the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend

E. What causes arguments & contention:

Pro.10:12a – Hatred stirreth up strifes
Pro.13:10 – Only by pride cometh contention
Pro.15:1b – Grievous words stir up anger
Pro.15:18a – A wrathful man stirreth up strife
Pro.18:6 – A fool’s lips enter into contention
Pro.26:21 – As wood to fire; so a contentious man (kindles) strife
Pro.28:25a – He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife
Pro.29:22 – An angry man stirreth up strife
Acts 13:45 – They were filled with envy, & spake against those things…contradicting & blaspheming
1Tim.6:4 – He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions &…words, whereof cometh…strife
Jam.4:1 – Wars & fightings…come..of your lusts
(See also Pro.26:17)

F. The futility of arguing:

Job 6:25 – How forcible are right words! But what doth your arguing reprove?
Pro.9:7,8 – He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself…shame…reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee
Pro.23:9 – Speak not in the ears of a fool: he will despise wisdom
Pro.29:9 – If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he (the foolish man) rage or laugh, there is no rest

G. Ending an argument:

Pro.17:9 – He that covereth (lets pass) a transgression seeketh love
Pro.20:3a – It is an honour for a man to cease from strife
Pro.22:10 – Cast out the scorner, & contention shall…cease
Col.3:13 – Forbearing (putting up with) one another, & forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any
(See also Gen.50:20,21)

H. Warning to those who “love a good argument”:

Pro.17:19 – He loveth transgression that loveth strife
1Cor.3:3 – Whereas there is among you…strife….are ye not carnal, & walk as [carnal, worldly] men?
Jam.3:14,15 – If ye have bitter…strife in your hearts, glory not…this wisdom is devilish

I. The bad fruit of arguments:

Psa.106:33 – They provoked his (Moses’) spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with this lips
Pro.18:19 – A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city…contentions are like bars of a castle
Acts 15:39 – The contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other
Gal.5:15 – If ye bite & devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another
Jam.3:16 – Where…strife is, there is confusion & every evil work

J. When it is right to contend:

Pro.26:5 – Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit
Pro.28:4 – Such as keep the law contend with (the wicked)
Pro.28:23 – He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth
Acts 15:1,2 – “Except ye be circumcised, ye cannot be saved.” Paul…had no small dissension & disputation with them
Jude 3b – Ye should earnestly contend for the faith

K. Humbly explain to, correct & instruct the receptive:

Gal.6:1 – Restore such an one in the spirit of meekness
2Tim.2:25 – In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves (See also Jam.5:20)
1Pet.3:15 – Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason…with meekness


A. God’s Word warns us not to lie:

Lev.19:11 – Neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another
Pro.24:28 – Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; & deceive not with thy lips
Eph.4:25 – Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour
Col.3:9 – Lie not to one another, seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds

B. What God thinks about lying:

Pro.12:22a – Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord

C. God’s judgment on wicked liars:

Psa.63:11b – The mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped
Pro.19:5 – A false witness shall not be unpunished, & he that speaketh lies shall not escape
Pro.19:9 – He that speaketh lies shall perish
Acts 5:1-10 – [Ananias & Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost & died]
(See also Psa.31:18; 35:11-20; Pro.12:19.)

Special chapter on the tongue: James 3

25. The Power Of The Tongue, Copyright © 1998-2012, The Family International