MEANING: Life and Death Are In The Power Of The Tongue

“Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21

What Does Life and Death Are In The Power Of The Tongue Mean?

It means that the words we speak have an incredible power to shape our lives and the lives of others. Our words can be used as a tool to bring life—by bringing encouragement, comfort, and hope—or to bring death—by spreading hurtful lies, gossip, and negativity. Every word we say carries with it a profound responsibility and a potential to make a difference.

In Matthew 12:37, Jesus said, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” This verse teaches us that the power of our tongue can have lasting consequences. We are ultimately responsible for the words we use and how they affect ourselves, as well as others.

Our words have the power to lift up or tear down—to bring life or death into a situation. We should always remember that we are accountable for our words and think carefully about how we use them. When we choose to speak life, rather than death, it has the power to bring light and hope into a situation—and can even bring about miraculous transformations.

In Ephesians 4:29, it says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” This verse encourages us to speak words that are edifying and full of life. In our conversations with others, we should strive to bring hope and joy rather than hurt and despair.

James 3:10 says, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” This verse warns us against saying one thing in one moment and then something completely different in another moment. Our words should always reflect integrity and thoughtfulness.

Our Words Can Bring Life or Death

Life and death are in the power of the tongue. That means we should take everything we say very seriously. Let’s look at specific ways to speak life and some of the ways we speak death.

We Speak Life By Encouraging Others

We can use our words to bring life by encouraging and uplifting those around us. We can choose to speak words of kindness that build up instead of tear down. Consider speaking truth in love and offering words of affirmation when we talk about others—including ourselves.

In Hebrews 10:24, it says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” This verse reminds us that our words have the power to bring encouragement and motivation into someone else’s life.

Our words have the power to bring about positive change, inspire others, and even heal broken relationships. We can use our words to make a difference in someone’s life—by offering them hope and comfort. For example, speaking words of affirmation can be especially powerful for someone who is struggling with low self-esteem or depression.

We Speak Death By Being Critical

One of the most common ways we speak death into the lives of others is by constantly being critical. We can use our words to tear down and discourage those around us. But when we do this, we are not using the power of our tongues for good.

In Proverbs 18:21 it says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” This verse reminds us that words have power—and whatever we speak can bring life or death into the lives of those around us.

Therefore, let us be careful with our words—that they may bring life and not death to those around us. May we choose to use our words for good and make a difference in someone’s life!

We Speak Life By Speaking The Truth

It’s also important to speak life by speaking the truth. This means avoiding manipulation, exaggeration, and fabrication with our words. It means saying what is true and helpful in a respectful manner—and not using our words to manipulate others or spread lies.

In Colossians 3:9-10 it says, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” We should always strive to use our words responsibly and respectfully—and never twist the truth or mislead others with our words.

By being mindful of the power of our words, we can choose to bring life into every situation. Life and death are in the power of the tongue—so let us use our words wisely, for the glory of God.

May we speak life into each other’s lives, and uplift one another through our words!

We Speak Death By Gossiping

Gossip and slander are another common way that we can speak death into the lives of others. We should never spread rumors or engage in gossip, as it has the power to ruin someone’s reputation and cause a lot of hurt.

In Proverbs 16:28 it says, “A perverse man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.” This verse reminds us that our words can be destructive and hurtful if we are not careful.

Gossip is not an innocent thing. Let us be mindful of what we say and not use our words to spread malicious lies or destructive rumors. May we choose instead to speak life into the lives of those around us, and never use our words for evil.

We Speak Life By Praying For Others

We should also use our words to speak life by praying for others. We can pray for those who need encouragement, healing, and hope in their lives. By being intentional with our prayers, we can bring joy and peace into someone else’s world.

In James 5:16 it says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” This verse reminds us of the power of our prayers—and how they can bring about healing and restoration in the lives of others.

Really, there are few things better than praying for someone. When we pray we are asking God Himself to intervene in a person’s life. We’re asking the most powerful and loving being in the universe to do good to someone. Is there anything better than that?

We Speak Death By Complaining

We should be mindful of how our words affect those around us. We should avoid complaining or grumbling about people and situations, as it only brings negativity into the atmosphere. Additionally, complaining tends to spread. When you complain it tempts others to complain as well.

In Philippians 2:14-15 it says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Our words can be a light to those around us—or they can be a source of darkness. Let us use our words wisely, and strive to speak life into every situation. We can use our words to bring joy and hope into the world, rather than negativity.

Speak Life By Using Words Of Blessing

Finally, we can use our words to speak life by speaking words of blessing over those around us. We can choose to use our words to bless instead of curse. This means choosing not to criticize or pass judgement, but rather offering grace and mercy through our speech.

In Numbers 6:24 it says, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.” We can use this verse as a model for offering words of blessing in our lives.

When we speak words of blessing, we are using our words to bring life and joy into someone else’s world. We can bless people with our words, whether we are giving an encouraging word in a difficult time or simply speaking kind and gentle words. Let us choose to use our words to be a blessing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does “life and death are in the power of the tongue” mean?

This phrase comes from Proverbs 18:21, which says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” This verse is referring to how powerful our words can be—in that they can bring death or life into a situation. Our words have the power to create positive or negative change in the world, depending on how we use them.

What does it mean to speak life?

To speak life means to use your words to encourage and lift up those around you. It means speaking words of blessing rather than criticism, and using our words as an instrument for good in the world. Using our words to speak life means being intentional about bringing joy and hope into someone else’s world.

What does the Bible say about speaking life?

The Bible is full of verses that encourage us to use our words wisely and speak life into every situation. In James 3:5-6 it says, “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.” This is a powerful reminder of how important it is to use our words for good, rather than evil. Let us strive to be mindful of our words and speak life into every situation!

Hey, I'm Stephen Altrogge. I'm a dad and published author. I've written for The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, ERLC, Church Leaders, Crosswalk, and many more outlets. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook .

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