The Power of Life or Death is in the Tongue

                                                                              Proverbs 18:21

(Proverbs 18:21 CEV)  Words can bring death or life! Talk too much, and you will eat everything you say.


(Proverbs 18:21 KJVA)  Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.


The tongue is a fire:


(James 3:6 CEV)  The tongue is like a spark. It is an evil power that dirties the rest of the body and sets a person's entire life on fire with flames that come from hell itself.


Letís talk about fire for a minute. It is one of the most destructive, and at the same time, one of the most beneficial forces in all of nature. Manís ability to control fire has taken us from the campfires of boys to the moon and onward. Every day it is fire that lights the lights we turn on in the morning and heats our coffee. It is fire that explodes in the engines of our cars and transports us to and from work. It is fire that warms us in our homes at night and it is fire that lights up the sky and gives life to all things on this earth. Yet if any of you have ever been anywhere around where a fire gets out of control, you know the unbelievable damage it can create. Forest fires destroy thousands of acres of land and homes and businesses across our country every year. We saw the flames shooting up into the sky from the World Trade Centerís twin towers, which brought them to the ground. We witnesses the space shuttle challenger explode in mid air as it came burning into our atmosphere.


Fire is something that we take for granted every day, yet it is this same fire that we depend upon for our very existence. I have been a professional fire-eater for many, many years now. I learned to respect fire the hard way. Many of you have heard about the time I set myself ablaze. But for those of you who did not, I will quickly tell you the story.


I was doing a stilt walk and fire-eating gig for a birthday party, some 60 miles north of here in Spring Hill. It was late at night and the party was really just getting going. I was outside in the front of the lodge, on my stilts doing my fire-eating routine, that I have done for years. Someone asked me to blow fire and I was about to when the security guard told us we had to take it to the back of the property. So I led the procession of partiers to the back where there was a nice grassy area. As I blew the fluid out of my mouth on to the flaming torch, the fire exploded back into my face setting my face and neck ablaze. I was still up on the stilts and had to throw myself to the ground and try to put the flames out in the dirt. If I had still been out front in the parking lot I would most likely not be writing these words today. I still remember trying to beat out the flames and Everytime I would take a breath or exhale the flames would burst brighter in front of my eyes. All I could see was flames and all I could smell was burning flesh.


Finally I got the fire put our on my face and turned around to see the grace and part of my stilt-pants burning behind me. Remember, I still had the stilts on. The people standing around were all just standing there amazed and, well, freaking out. I worked my legs around and stomped out the flames on the ground, took off the stilts and wondered into the bathroom inside the lodge. My face was charred, my nose was blood red, and from the nose down was melted flesh and black, pealing skin. I knew I needed to get some help. I went out to my car and I remember the father of the kid whose birthday it was telling me where the local hospital was. I was in shock. I got in my car and drove and drove and drove. I passed at least three hospitals and kept driving. All I knew was that I wanted to get home to my wife. Well, to cut a long story short. Three days in the burn unit at Tampa General Hospital and about six months of healing you can not even see any scars today. But the emotional ones will never go away.


I told you that story to illustrate the point that James is making in this passage of scripture. He compares the tongue with a spark bursting into a huge out of control flame. But first you must know that the tongue, just like fire itself is just as powerful in building up as it is in tearing down.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us that in the tongue is the power of life and death. So I want you to listen to the whole message today. I do not want you to go away just hearing the exhortation. I want you to firmly get the exultation as well. It is the words that you speak that can set your life ablaze with great accomplishment and success. And it is you words that can get you burned so bad that your life and the life of those you hurt will never be the same. So donít just hear the condemnation. Listen for and firmly grab unto the reality of the creative force that is at your disposal. This is something that you have right now. It is the power to create great wealth. It is the power to move nations. Do not under estimate the power of your words.


Have you ever heard of the Boxer Rebellion?   It was an uprising in China in the late 1800 and early 1900. Hundreds of Christians and foreign civilians were killed by a group of anti imperialist in China that were called the Boxers. One of the things that unsighted them was started by a spoof. There were four journalists in Denver waiting at a train station for a chance to get a story. When they ran into one another they began to talk and decided to fabricate a story together and went to the nearest pub and worked up a plan. They realized that it could not be a local story because that would be too easy to uncover. So they decided to write a story about China. They came up with the idea of a local business man bidding on a project to tear down the Great Wall of China and put in a super highway that would link China with the rest of the world.


The story was ran for only a couple of day and then dropped by the papers, but a week or so later it was picked up in the New York Times and then other papers all around the world. The fabricated story told of how China was going to be imperialized and internationalized. Many Chinese people became incensed by this news and rallied together behind this band of rebels, the Boxers.  Hundreds and even thousands of people were killed by the end of this uprising. Do not underestimate how far a little rumor can travel, or how much damage it can cause.


Like wise it was the inspirational words of Winston Churchill that encouraged and drove on the allied troops to victory in the II World War. Although born with a speech defect he became one of the worlds greatest inspirational speech orators. Here is just a small sample of the power of his words:


I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.


You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs ó Victory in spite of all terror ó Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.



I have long known that a pat on the back can go a lot further than a kick in the pants and it is only a couple of feet higher. We need to bring our bodies under subjection. And the greatest weapon that we have for either good or evil is our tongue. Our thoughts control our emotions, and our emotions control our words. Our words in turn control our actions and our actions control our habits. It is our habits that control our character and our character controls our destiny. So, simply by bringing the words that we speak under the proper control of our thoughtful minds, we can control our own destiny.


The problem then becomes one of controlling our thoughts. And that comes back down to the old garbage in, garbage out. But in reality it even goes deeper than that. More than a matter of our minds it becomes a matter of the heart. Because we know that what is really in the heart comes out of the mouth. If you have been finding yourself unhappy with some of the things that have been coming out of your mouth lately, than maybe you need to check the condition of your heart. We may not be able to make amends for all the things we have said in the past but we can start today turning the ship we call our lives around and head in a new direction. We do that by turning our hearts over to God. It is God who can create in you a new heart. It is God who can take the heart that has become callus from the many times it has been broken and make it new and free from condemnation and pain. All you have to do is to open up your heart and let Him in.


Too often we ďChristiansĒ can get inoculated from the reality of Godís love and grace. Sometimes it takes a hard lesson to knock some sense into us. Other times, by the grace of God, it might only take us listening once again to that still soft voice. I was awakened this evening by a skit that I watched on It reached into my heart and woke up something that has been long since, more than asleep, it was in a coma, close unto death. But as the LORD took my heart and molded it in His loving hands, I felt a peace that comforted me and I knew that I was washed clean like never before.


I pray for that newness for you today. I pray that you can look back at some of the things that you have said to people you love, that might have hurt them and nail that to the cross. It was from a broken heart that you lashed out at the ones closest to you. Donít let that pain control you any longer. You can be set free from both the pain that others have cause you and the pain you caused yourself and others. Right now, Right now you can be washed whiter than snow. God s standing right there beside you with open arms and He wants you to know that He loves you and died to give you a heart transplant. Open your heart and let the heart of Christ beat in your soul. As you do His heart will begin to guide your thoughts away from the things of this world, onto the good things that come from above. And as your thoughts become His thoughts, the words that come forth from your mouth will be a sweet, sweet savor.


I want to close in the book of proverb, because it is wisdom that should lead us down the paths of our everyday life.   


(Proverbs 17:9 CEV)  You will keep your friends if you forgive them, but you will lose your friends if you keep talking about what they did wrong.


(Proverbs 17:27 CEV)  It makes a lot of sense to be a person of few words and to stay calm.


(Proverbs 17:28 CEV)  Even fools seem smart when they are quiet.



(Proverbs 18:21 CEV)  Words can bring death or life! Talk too much, and you will eat everything you say.


(Proverbs 16:23 CEV)  You can persuade others if you are wise and speak sensibly.


(Proverbs 15:1 CEV)  A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.


(Proverbs 15:4 CEV)  Kind words are good medicine, but deceitful words can really hurt.


(Proverbs 16:27 CEV)  Worthless people plan trouble. Even their words burn like a flaming fire.


(Proverbs 16:28 CEV)  Gossip is no good! It causes hard feelings and comes between friends.


We shape our words and then our words shape us.

Ephesians 4:29-30 Let no corrupt ( unwholesome ) communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying ( building up ) that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord, my Strength, and my Redeemer


When it is all said and done, our hope is to bring glory to God. We do that by surrendering to Him. When we say we make ourselves living sacrifices that means all of us, including the strength of the words that come out of our mouths. Let Jesus into your heart and His love will naturally flow bringing forth the good fruit we so greatly desire. God bless you my friend. You are great! Just know it and be it. In Jesus Name Amen!!!!