The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life…. (Proverbs 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
Here are additional truths about our speech from Scripture:
6. The Bible commends wise and informed speech. The way we speak is a recurring theme in Scripture. Words have power. Words can be life-giving or life-crushing. James devotes an entire chapter to the power of the tongue (Jam. 3). David prayed that his words would be “acceptable” in the sight of God (Ps. 19:14). There is great value in applying the right word in the right moment (Prov. 25:11). The Bible rebukes those who speak before thinking (Jam. 1:19; Prov. 17:28, 29:20).
7. The Bible says that the mouth is a good barometer of the heart. “… for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). Words are not neutral; they reflect either good or evil. When we misspeak, we should not say, “I didn’t mean that.” Instead, we should say, “Those words come from an unsanctified part of my heart.” Speaking my mind may not reflect speaking that is true or virtuous, because the Christian mind is in constant state of needing to be renewed by the gospel (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 10:5).
8. The Bible commends the wisdom of not sharing everything with everyone all the time. Trustworthy people keep confidential information confidential and it is a sign of low character to reveal secrets (Prov. 11:3). The Bible extols the “prudent man” who knows to keep information to himself and rebukes the “heart of fools that speak folly” (Prov. 12:23). Sharing everything all the time to anyone who listens is not a sign of “authenticity” but of foolishness.
9. The Bible commends humility as a sign of grace. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” is found 3 times in Scripture (Prov. 3:34; Jam. 4:6,1; 1 Pet. 5:5). What does humility have to do with speech? Graceful, measured, civil speech is a sign of God’s grace and proud, boastful speech is a sign of God’s resistance. Humility means speaking with recognition of our own fallenness, resisting the urge to speak out of turn. We need the self-awareness to know if we are the right person to speak on a particular issue at a particular time.
10.The Bible commends speech that edifies. Christians can speak words that destroy (carnal weapons of destruction) or words that build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:29). There is a difference between verbal and written engagement meant to crush and winsome polemics meant to inform or rebuke.
Let’s pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to seek after God in the way we use our words and pray for repentance when our mouths reveal as-yet unsanctified parts of our hearts.