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"The tongue has the power of life and death."

(Proverbs 18:21)4



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Lesson 10/strong>





"The tongue has the power of life and death."

(Proverbs 18:21)


Lying: to make an untrue statement or give false information

Deceit: the act or attempt to trick or mislead

Slander: a false, malicious statement which injures reputation

Gossip: rumor or idle talk about someone

Quarrel: a verbal dispute or heated argument



As Christians, the way we communicate with others is extremely important. Our words can injure others, or they can heal.  They can condemn, or they can be uplifting. They can be true and righteous, or they can be deceptive and false.  The words we speak are a reflection of the condition of our faith and our walk with the Lord.


The Bible is overflowing with advice on how to communicate effectively with others, and how to avoid hurting others with careless speech. 





Our words, whether good or bad, flow out of the condition of our heart.(1)  That is, our words are indicators of our spiritual maturity.(2)  Ideally, everything we say should be spoken with the utmost care and consideration--"as if speaking the very words of God." (3)  After all, the words we say can have tremendous influence on the lives of others, even to the point of influencing life and death.(4)  Choose your words carefully, because on the day of judgment each of us will have to give an account for every careless word we have spoken.(5)


How to Speak:


      Be gentle and don't shout.(6)  Raising your voice and being harsh with another person tends to "stir up anger" and break down communication.  People are much more likely to listen to you if you speak in a quiet voice.(7) Also, you'll be much more persuasive if you are patient and speak with a "gentle tongue" rather than shouting.(8)


      Control your anger.  Show restraint, and don't let yourself get out of control. (9,10)  A hot-tempered man stirs up arguments and quarrels,(11,12) and is likely to commit many sins as a result of his anger.(13)  If you are wise, you will try to remain even tempered and show restraint when you speak to others.(14)


When to Speak:


      Think before you speak.(15,16)  Put a guard over your mouth and be careful what you say.(17,18) Don't speak too quickly.(19)  Some-times it is much better to "hold your tongue" and listen to the other person before you answer.(20,21)   You don't have to respond to everything another person says.(22)  When you can see that a topic of conversation is going to lead to an argument, learn to drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.(23)  Also, be patient and keep things in perspective; it is often wise to overlook an offense.(24)


      Avoid arguments and quarrels.   If you love to quarrel, you probably love to sin.(25) It is exceedingly difficult to live with a quarrelsome husband(26) or wife.(27-29)  If at all possible, try to avoid strife in your home.(30,31) Stand back and keep things in perspective; don't have anything to do with foolish or stupid arguments.(32)  The Lord's servant must not quarrel. (33)


What Not to Say:


     Don't Stoop To The Other Person's Level:  If the conversa¬tion begins to deteriorate and the other person is being foolish or childish, be mature and don't stoop to his or her level. (34,35) 


     Don't Mock Others:  Don't mock or make fun of others(36,37) or God may mock you; remain humble.(38)  People who mock others resent being corrected.(39)  No one likes a mocker.(40)


      Don't Insult Others:  If someone insults you, don't return the insult.(41)  Just because you get insulted, you don't need to "in¬sult back" and hurt the other person as well.(42) On some occa¬sions, it is more prudent to overlook an insult rather than let it upset you.(43) [However, this does not mean that you should allow someone to continually verbally abuse you.]


      Don't Swear or Use Filthy Language:  Never misuse the name of the Lord your God.(44) Don't use filthy or obscene language or tell "dirty jokes."(45,46)  Don't let anything unwholesome come out of your mouth.(47) If you consider yourself to be a religious person but don't keep a tight rein on your tongue, you are deceiving yourself and your "religion is worthless."(48)


       Don't Lie:  God detests people who tell lies, but He delights in people who are truthful.(49) If you love life and want to have good things happen to you, then you should watch what you say and avoid telling lies.(50) In addition, you are also to avoid "deception,"(51,52) which is a less obvious form of lying.  


If you don't refrain from lying and deception, the consequences can be severe.  Scriptures indicate that God "destroys" those who tell lies, and He "abhors" deceitful men.(53) Moreover, no one who prac-tices lying or deceit [and is unrepentant] will dwell in God's house or stand in His presence.(54)   


        Don't Tell Falsehoods:  God pays special attention to lies that are targeted at our neighbors (also called "falsehoods").  The Ninth Commandment states:  "You shall not give false witness against your neighbor."(55)  This is because, when you lie about your neighbor, you can cause him or her great harm.(56)  As Christians, we should be especially careful about telling falsehoods about one another, as we are all members of one body.(57)


Some people lie or deceive in order to cheat and steal from others.  Although such actions may bring temporary rewards, God cautions us about engaging in dishonest behavior.(58,59) A fortune made through lying can be quickly lost and such ill-gotten gains can prove to be a deadly snare.(60)  In the final analysis, it is better to be poor than to be a liar.(61)


        Don't Slander:  If you speak falsely about someone in order to ruin his or her reputation (i.e., "defame"), this is called slander.  God specifically commands us  not to slander  others,(62)  and warns that He will put to "silence" anyone who slanders his neighbor in secret.(63)  King Solomon warns that whoever spreads slander is a fool.(64)


     Don't Gossip:  Slander is very closely related to gossip. When you gossip about someone, you spread rumors about the person "behind his or her back" (that can be harmful or hurtful).  Very often, gossip represents a betrayal of something that someone has told another person in confidence.(65,66)


It can be very enticing to listen to another person gossip.(67)  However, gossip can prove to be extremely destructive with regard to human relationships.  It can break up friendships,(68) and "fuel the fire" of arguments and quarrels.(69)  People who are idle (and have too much time on their hands) often gossip and say things they shouldn't say.(70)  Avoid godless chatter.(71)


        Don't Keep Bringing Up The Past:  If the person you are talking to has sinned against you, but has genuinely and truly repented, you should forgive him/her and stop bringing up the past offense.(72,73)  Love keeps no record of wrongs.(74)



God's Guidance


What to Say:


      Be truthful:  It pleases God when we are truthful,(75,76) and when we answer honestly.(77)  A person who tells lies may benefit temporarily, but "truthful lips" endure forever.(78)  If you tell lies or are deceitful, you should repent and pray that God will remove this sin from your heart.(79,80) 


If you are tempted to lie or deceive, you should remember that the devil is a liar, and the "father of all lies."(81)  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.(82)


      Say Nice Things:  Kind and pleasant words can be very pow-erful, and can help heal any situation.  Choose your words careful-ly; they can serve as beautiful gifts-like "apples of gold in settings of silver."(83)  They can be "sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."(84) And they can aid in the process of teaching and learning.(85)


    Be Happy, Cheerful, Joyful:  You can set the emotional tone for good communication.  As much as depends on you, strive to be happy,(86,87) cheerful,(88,89) and joyful.(90)


      Encourage One Another:  Encourage each other daily, and build each other up.(91,92)  Spur one another toward love and good deeds.(93) Nourish one another(94) and let God's Word guide your speech.(95)


Finally, strive to live a righteous and holy life, and let everything that comes out of your mouth reflect the faith you have in Jesus Christ.  The mouth of a righteous man can be a "fountain of life."(96) Be peaceable and considerate, and show true humility toward all men.(97)


As much as is possible, strive to live in peace and harmony with everyone; be sympathetic and compassionate.(98)  Regardless of your situation, conduct yourself in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ.(99)  In the end, those who walk uprightly will find peace,(100) and the righteous will "shine like the sun" in the kingdom of heaven.(101)



The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

(Luke 6:45)1


If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not

keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself

and his religion is worthless.

(James 1:26)2


If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking

the very words of God. (1 Peter 4:11)3


The tongue has the power of life and death.

(Proverbs 18:21)4


But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

(Matthew 12:36-37)5


A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a

harsh word stirs up anger.

(Proverbs 15:1)6


The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded

than the shouts of a ruler of fools.

(Ecclesiastes 9:17)7


Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,

and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

(Proverbs 25:15)8


A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man

 keeps himself under control.

(Proverbs 29:11)9


Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,

for anger resides in the lap of fools.

(Ecclesiastes 7:9)10


A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a

patient man calms a quarrel.

(Proverbs 15:18)11


For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.

(Proverbs 30:33)12


An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered

one commits many sins. 

(Proverbs 29:22)13


A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a manof understanding is even-tempered.

(Proverbs 17:27)14


He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who

speaks rashly will come to ruin.

(Proverbs 13:3)15


The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,

but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

(Proverbs 15:28)16


He who guards his mouth and his tongue

keeps himself from calamity.

(Proverbs 21:23)17


Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD;

keep watch over the door of my lips. 

(Psalm 141:3)18


Do you see a man who speaks in haste? 

There is more hope for a fool than for him.

(Proverbs 29:20)19




He who answers before listening-that is

his folly and his shame.

(Proverbs 18:13)20


When words are many, sin is not absent,

but he who holds his tongue is wise.

(Proverbs 10:19)21


Do not pay attention to every word people say.

(Ecclesiastes 7:21)22


Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;

so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

(Proverbs 17:14)23


A man's wisdom gives him patience;

it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

(Proverbs 19:11)24


He who loves a quarrel loves sin.

(Proverbs 17:19)25


As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,

so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.

(Proverbs 26:21)26


A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.

(Proverbs 19:13)27


Better to live in a desert than with a

quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

(Proverbs 21:19)28


A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a

rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the

wind or grasping oil with the hand.

(Proverbs 27:15-16)29



It is to a man's honor to avoid strife.

(Proverbs 20:3)30


Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house

full of feasting, with strife.

(Proverbs 17:1)31


Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments,

because you know they produce quarrels.

(2 Timothy 2:23)32


And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead,

he must be kind to everyone,

able to teach, not resentful.

(2 Timothy 2:24)33


Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

or you will be like him yourself.

(Proverbs 26:4)34


When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child,

I reasoned like a child. When I became a man,

I put childish ways behind me.

(1 Corinthians 13:11)35


Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;

quarrels and insults are ended.

(Proverbs 22:10)36


Again, anyone who says to his brother, "Raca" [worthless]

is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says,

"You fool!" will be in danger of the fire of hell.

(Matthew 5:22)37


He [God] mocks proud mockers but

gives grace to the humble.

(Proverbs 3:34)38


A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.

(Proverbs 15:12)39


Men detest a mocker.

(Proverbs 24:9)40


Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.

(1 Peter 3:9)41


Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

or you will be like him yourself.

(Proverbs 26:4)42


A fool shows his annoyance at once,

but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

(Proverbs 12:16)43


You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for theLORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

(Exodus 20:7)44


But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: 

anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

(Colossians 3:8)45


Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking,

which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

(Ephesians 5:4)46


He [God] mocks proud mockers but

gives grace to the humble.

(Proverbs 3:34)38


A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.

(Proverbs 15:12)39


Men detest a mocker.

(Proverbs 24:9)40


Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.

(1 Peter 3:9)41


Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

or you will be like him yourself.

(Proverbs 26:4)42


A fool shows his annoyance at once,

but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

(Proverbs 12:16)43


You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

(Exodus 20:7)44


But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: 

anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

(Colossians 3:8)45


Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking,

which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

(Ephesians 5:4)46


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.

(Ephesians 4:29)47


If anyone considers himself religious and yet does

not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives

himself and his religion is worthless. 

(James 1:26)48


The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights

in men who are truthful.

(Proverbs 12:22)49


Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

(Psalm 34:12-13)50


Do not lie.  Do not deceive one another.

(Leviticus 19:11)51


Keep me from deceitful ways.

(Psalm 119:29)52


You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty

and deceitful men the LORD abhors.

(Psalm 5:6)53


No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one

who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

(Psalm 101:7)54


"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

(Exodus 20:16)55


Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who

gives false testimony against his neighbor.

(Proverbs 25:18)56


Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

(Ephesians 4:25)57


For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.

(Deuteronomy 25:16)58


Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man,

but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

(Proverbs 20:17)59


A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor

and a deadly snare.

(Proverbs 21:6)60


Better to be poor than a liar.

(Proverbs 19:22)61


"Do not go about spreading slander among your people." 

"I am the LORD."  (Leviticus 19:16)62


Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence.

(Psalm 101:5)63


Whoever spreads slander is a fool.

(Proverbs 10:18)64


A gossip betrays a confidence,

but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

(Proverbs 11:13)65


A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

(Proverbs 20:19)66


The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;

they go down to a man's inmost parts.

(Proverbs 18:8)67


A gossip separates close friends.

(Proverbs 16:28)68


Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.

(Proverbs 26:20)69


Besides, they [young widowers] get into the habit of being idle

and going about from house to house.  And not only do

they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies,

saying things they ought not to say.

(1 Timothy 5:13)70


Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it

will become more and more ungodly.

(2 Timothy 2:16)71


Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

(Ephesians 4:32)72


Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

(Colossians 3:13)73


Love is patient, love is kind...it keeps no record of wrongs.

(1 Corinthians 13: 4-5)74


O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth?

(Jeremiah 5:3)75


Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach

me wisdom in the inmost place.

(Psalm 51:6)76


An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.       

(Proverbs 24:26)77     


Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue

lasts only a moment.

(Proverbs 12:19)78


Keep falsehood and lies far from me.

(Proverbs 30:8)79


Keep me from deceitful ways.

(Psalm 119: 29)80


When he [the devil] lies, he speaks his native language,

for he is a liar and the father of lies.

(John 8:44)81


Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

(James 4:7)82


A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold

in settings of silver

(Proverbs 25:11)83


Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to

the soul and healing to the bones.

(Proverbs 16:24)84


Pleasant words promote instruction.

(Proverbs 16:21)85


I know that there is nothing better for men than to be

happy and do good while they live.

(Ecclesiastes 3:12)86


But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;

may they be happy and joyful.

(Psalm 68:3)87


The cheerful heart has a continual feast.

(Proverbs 15:15)88


A cheerful heart is good medicine.

(Proverbs 17:22)89


Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in

all circumstances, for this is God's

will for you in Christ Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)90


But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called

Today, so that none of you may be hardened

by sin's deceitfulness.

(Hebrews 3:13)91


Therefore encourage one another and build

each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)92


And let us consider how we may spur one

another on toward love and good deeds.

(Hebrews 10:24)93


The lips of the righteous nourish many.

(Proverbs 10:21)94


I have hidden your word in my heart that

I might not sin against you.

(Psalm 119:11)95


The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.

(Proverbs 15:4)96


Remind the people...to slander no one, to be

peaceable and considerate, and show true

humility toward all men.

(Titus 3:2)97


Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another;

be sympathetic, love as brothers,

be compassionate and humble.

(1 Peter 3:8)98


Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner

worthy of the gospel of Christ.

(Philippians 1:27)99


Those who walk uprightly enter into peace.

(Isaiah 57:2)100


Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom

of their Father.  He who has ears, let him hear.

(Matthew 13:43)101

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Brian Campbell
New Life Christian Counseling Center
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