God has given man two abilities which separate him from all other living beings on Earth. He has been given the ability to make a choice and the ability to speak. In the Book of Genesis, in the original Hebrew text, it says, “Man was created a speaking spirit.”
This article is not simply about evil speaking, but about how our words define us. What we say and how we say it are who we really are. If you speak mean, angry, hurtful words, you are most likely a mean, angry, hurtful person. If you, (and I’m talking about on a habitual basis) speak kind, considerate words, you are probably a kind, considerate person.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. -Matthew 12:34
Keep thy heart more than anything that is guarded; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (Darby)
Let’s consider how unique the operation of our tongue is. Its function is not seen, as much as it is heard. God designed our tongues to reflect our hidden selves—to reveal our thoughts and ideas, and our personalities. Our tongues take things from within and bring them out into the open.
The value our words have and the harm they can cause are clearly laid out in the scripture. The Word of God teaches us how to treat people, how to speak to people, and how to speak about people. At the root of nearly every broken relationship, friendship, career or divorce, you’ll usually find that the beginning seed was planted by hurtful words.
For he who is willing to love life, and to see good days, let him guard his tongue from evil, and his lips—not to speak guile… I Peter 3:10 (Young)
If we would remove negative words—gossip, slander and divisiveness—from our conversation, it would automatically improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
God commands that we love one another. He isn’t just concerned about our servingHim, but He’s also concerned about how we love and serve each other. In fact, our love for Him hinges on our love for each other. Loving each other is not a suggestion. It’s a commandment.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. John 15:14
The primary use of the tongue is praising God. The Hebrew language is very descriptive. Words in Hebrew not only have definitions but they also can be associated with pictures and numbers. The word picture for the Hebrew word praise is “tongue of tongues.” This is akin to saying Jesus is the King of Kings. Praise, then, represents the pinnacle of what we can use our tongues to do.
An old Jewish proverb declares of the person who guards his tongue, “His mouth becomes like a vessel of the Holy Temple.” When your tongue is used as it was intended, it becomes a holy object to God.
To New Testament believers in Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul writes:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? I Corinthians 6:19
If our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, then our tongues become holy vessels of blessing if they are used properly. But when used improperly, our tongues can become instruments of defilement and contamination.
Let’s look at one aspect of this truth. The scripture tells us that satan is the accuser of the brethren.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:9, 10
The Jews believed that the accusations satan brought to God were the words people had spoken against others. In other words, their evil speaking gave satan his ammunition. They also believed that the harmful words they had spoken could come back on them and be put on their heavenly ledger.
Now, I can’t prove that to be true, but what does the scripture say?
Judge not, that ye be not judged. Matthew 7:1
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven… Luke 6:37
What we do and say can come back on us.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7
What is the thing that we sow that comes back to judge us? It’s our words!
Whoever goes around advertising the faults of others, he bears the same fault!
This reminds me of a story I heard about a wonderful pastor and his wife who were being maligned by a group of people who were misinformed about them. A dear friend was consoling the pastor’s wife, but this was her reply, “It could be worse! I could be the one talking!” She had a good understanding of the laws of God and how they work.
The best way to control our tongues is to forgive.
…And He [the High Priest] shall provide atonement… Leviticus 16:17 (Stone Edition of the Chumash, Hebrew Translation)
This verse refers to the incense service that atoned for the sin of slander and gossip. In the Hebrew translation of the Old Testament, the words used to describe sins of the tongue are “lashon hara.” Those two words literally mean “evil speaking.”
The Jewish sages say it this way, “Let incense atone for ‘lashon hara’ that is spoken stealthily behind someone’s back.” The words “atonement” and “forgiveness” are the same word in Hebrew.
This “evil speaking” was considered a very serious sin. The High Priest was only permitted to enter into the Holy of Holies on one day each year, and the first service he performed in that awesome place on that awesome day was to atone for gossip and slander. Without that there was no forgiveness of sins.
Thus Jesus commanded us:
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25
How powerful this gift we’ve been given; our words, which can create or destroy! The Hebrew word picture for “lashon,” (literally the tongue) means “the rod that devours or establishes life.” Let’s use our tongues for their highest purpose—to establish—not to destroy our lives.
If we have sinned with our words, thank God, we can repent, and Jesus will cleanse us and not put it on our heavenly ledger.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. Deuteronomy 30:19
Remember that we have the ability to make a choice and the ability to speak. We can choose how we used our tongues. I think what Kenneth Copeland has said sums it all up: “YOU are PROPHET of your own life.”