Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21, NKJV)
The tongue is very powerful. With it we can bless God and curse men – almost at the same time (although it ought not be so, Jas. 3:9-10). Solomon assures us we will reap what we sow concerning the words we speak. Since this is true of the spoken word, it is also true of the words we speak online. Posting on websites and social media gives us no license to be rude, crude, unkind, profane and hurtful to others. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are too frequently launching pads for hateful assaults, bitter criticisms, and malicious attacks. Words can cut deeper than a knife, often maiming or killing a person’s good reputation, a friendship, a marriage, or even a life. So, be careful what you post on social media. Our words reveals our hearts, and God is the great heart-knower to whom we all are accountable (Matt. 12:34-35; Acts 1:24; Heb. 4:13). Monitor your words online – what you post will be there for a very long time. Will your words bear the fruit of death or life?
14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 14–15, NKJV)
Enoch’s prophecy against those who abandon God’s truth makes it undeniable that God will convict and execute judgment against sinners. A clear description of God’s judgment against the impious, irreverent person is set before us here. The character of the ungodly is condemned because they “are ungodly” (v. 15; Hebrews 4:13). The ungodly are convicted are condemned for their deeds. “All their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way” will be judged by God (v. 15; Romans 2:6-11). And, the words of the ungodly will be judged by God. All the “harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” will be exposed to divine wrath on the day of God’s judgment (Matthew 12:37). Truly, God’s judgment against the ungodly will be comprehensive. The character, deeds and words of the ungodly do not escape God’s notice and will not escape God’s judgment. May we strive to live “soberly, righteously and godly” to receive the hope of glory and not the certainty of wrath on the great day of God’s judgment (Titus 2:11-13).
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29, NKJV)
Acceptable profanity has reached an appalling level in America. Profane language is common place in the home and on the job. It is used in classrooms (from teachers as well as students), on social media, in popular music, movies, television and the internet. Just about everywhere someone is talking, profanity is given a place. Profanity adds nothing constructive to a conversation. Indeed, it distracts from it. Profane speech does not enhance clearer, more concise communication. It is spoken casually and mindlessly, as filler without context and without character. It is profoundly meaningless, useless and rotten (“corrupt”). Profanity does it “impart grace” to those who hear it, nor does it bring honor to the person who uses it. It disrespects God and shows contempt for others. Its companions are often anger and wrath (Eph. 4:31). Let us remember that our words show what is in our hearts. Jesus said that. And, He said our words will either justify or condemn us in the last day of judgment (Matt. 12:33-37). We must take great care to control our hearts, to control our tongues and avoid corrupt words.
Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20, NKJV)
Do you know someone who seems to be an “expert” on just about every subject that comes up? Give him an opening, and he will be sure you know it! He will tell you the best car to buy, the best food to eat, the best place to live, the best…everything! And, the alternatives are always inferior – because he knows what is best! Except for the occasional renaissance man and woman, it is much wiser to be deliberate in choosing our words before we speak. People will soon tune out from listening to the person if they believe that person’s high opinion of himself drives most everything he says. Carefully choose your words, for it will be words “fitly spoken” that convey value and wisdom (Prov. 25:11). The fool is rash and rapid with his words, causing disruption and disturbance in his wake. By contrast, inspiration instructs us to “let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6).
5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. (James 3:5–6, NKJV)
There is amazing power in your tongue. Of course, that is to say, there is great power in the words we choose to speak. Like a small match that sets an entire forest ablaze, the small tongue can do enormous damage. With it, one can engulf the whole body with the defilement of sin. Sinful habits are reinforced and perpetuated by sinful words that are put into action. Words have meaning, and the words we choose can hurt many souls, or conversely, our words can speak truth and build up the brokenhearted. Jesus said that our words either justify or condemn us before God on the day of judgment (Matt. 12:36-37). Just as we are careful when using a campfire in the forest, let us be careful not to use our tongues as daggers flung at an opponent, to disrupt, damage and destroy. Let us speak kindly, with gracious words that impart kindness and respect to others (Eph. 4:29).
Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. (Proverbs 21:23, NKJV)
Our words are the expressions of our soul. The deepest recesses of the heart are exposed by the words of our mouth. Truly, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). For example, guard your mouth against speaking corrupt words. There is no place in the Christian’s life for profanity, for it exposes a profane heart. Guard your mouth against speaking lies. Half-truths, misdirection and other forms of deception are not a trait of the pure in heart. “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor” defines the followers of Jesus (Eph. 4:25). Guard your mouth against angry words. These flow out of a heart that is bitter, resentful and unforgiving. Guard your mouth against speaking false doctrine. The Spirit of truth has spoken truth to us through Christ’s apostles (Jno. 16:13). Therefore, speak “as the oracles of God,” not with the wisdom and will of men (1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 2:8). By cleansing your heart of profanity, deceit, anger and error, your soul will be protected from trouble. That’s what repentance is; changing your heart. Rather than opening wide your mouth to pour out evil things, guard your soul from the troublesome results of an uncontrolled tongue. May we recall and live what the children sing, “Be careful little mouths what you say.”
9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” (James 3:9–12, NKJV)
A double-tongue (we are not talking about how to blow a trumpet) is morally repugnant (“these things ought not to be so”) to God. It ought to be so to us. With it, a person praises God while also speaking harmful criticisms against people. Since our words proceed from our hearts, this is ultimately a condemnation of the duplicitous heart. The self-righteous person is found to be such (see Lk. 18:9-12). Yet, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). The consistency of nature (water, trees and vines) reflects the relationship between the heart and the tongue. Just as James warned of the spiritual instability of the “double-minded man” in James 1:7-8, and exhorted the doubled-minded to purify their hearts in James 4:8, he now warns us of being deceived by our very words. Keep your tongue under the control of truth by keeping your heart under the control of truth.