Our Tongue, Set on Fire by Hell

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

Matthew 15:11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

Matthew 12:36-37 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:27 A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.

Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 13:3 The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul.

Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

When I was about 25 years old and still farming, I wrote out these verses in a little notebook that fit in my shirt pocket, and I read them several times everyday. I was prompted to do it because of a sermon a visiting missionary that our church helped support gave in a Sunday morning service. The sermon was on the power of our words. With our lips we worship God, tell our wife we love her, share the good news of the gospel with a lost person, and encourage someone so that they choose to serve the Lord. But with those same lips we grumble about hard times, gossip about our neighbor, hurt a person terribly with our angry words, and speak or yell curse words.

The words that the missionary spoke that convicted me deeply was, “God is always testing people to see who He can use to do His work and accomplish great things for Him, and a primary test are the words that come out of our mouth.”

As a 25 year old I wanted desperately to serve the Lord and accomplish a lot for Him, but I knew that the words that often came out of my mouth would disqualify me from doing much that mattered for Him. As the missionary put it, “I was going to be on God’s bench instead of in the game,” and I had ridden the bench a lot as a High School basketball player, and I hated it. I did not want to ride the bench in the game of life. So, I wrote out those verses and read them over and over again until the power of God’s Word began to change me from the inside out. Occasionally I get them out and read them some more when I hear myself talking rude, or mean, or gossiping, or slandering, or complaining. I like being in the game.

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