The Power of Speech

By Frank Brown

Today I want to talk about the spoken word – speech – words – the tongue – and the POWER they contain – the GOOD they can do, and the HARM they can do. HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED THE POWER in WORDS? THEY CONTAIN THE POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH – Yahweh’s words as well as Man’s. Untold millions of words are spoken every day. Some in jest, some in foolishness, some to enlighten or educate others, some to deceive others. Many words are spoken to glorify the speaker, at least in his or her own mind. But probably most words are spoken with some serious intent. BUT sadly, few are spoken in praise of our Creator, YHWH, and His Son, Yahshua the Messiah. Have you ever considered the effect YOUR words may have on others? How often do we speak without realizing the true import of what we are saying? Do we sometimes speak in a way that hurts the feelings of others? Even loved ones, such as spouses or children? .7 Or do we strive to lift up others and encourage them by our words? TOO OFTEN THE ANSWER TO THAT IS “NO.” In this study, I want to bring out some Scriptures as well as some points to help all of us to understand the importance of speech, and learn to better control our tongues. In other words, the good or evil that we can do with our tongues. Let’s take a look at some Scriptures that have to do with words: (Heb 11:3 NRSV) "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of YAHweh, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible." YHWH spoke the universe into existence from nothing! By His Voice He commanded and it was done. Gen 1: And Elohim SAID: (vss 3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26, 29. He put us here and “commanded the man (us), saying, …”(Gen. 2:16). Yahshua’s words: (Mat 4:4 KJV) "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of YHWH." Yahshua was quoting from Deut. 8:3. JOHN 17:17 tells us “Thy Word is Truth.” So we see that Yahweh’s words are POWERFUL, and they are TRUE! And, “The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the words of Yahweh remain forever,” Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 40:8. See also Hebrews 4:12. But what about man’s words? His lips? His tongue? Matt.12:36-37 “But I say to you that EVERY IDLE word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of JUDGMENT - For by your WORDS will you be justified, and by your WORDS will you be condemned.” We will be judged by our words, that is why we must pay attention to our tongue that we not speak vanity and abomination. In other words, we must learn to think before we speak. What’s the process? First the thought –then the mouth speaks – then the action takes place. (Luke 6:45 NRSV) "The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks." The abundance of the heart – What is in our hearts today? Has His Teachings been written in our hearts? Do we really think before we speak? Do we REALLY EVEN UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF GUARDING OUR TONGUES? That is what I hope to bring out today. This is something we all need, including me! “If you CONFESS with your mouth Yahshua the Messiah (YHWH’s Salvation) and believe in your heart that YHWH has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the MOUTH CONFESSION is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10. Is this what is in our hearts? The spiritual walk to be holy and blameless before Yahweh can be frustrating at times, can’t it?. Many seek to live a righteous life, yet few know where to start. Do you? If we desire to move forward in our spiritual walk, this is a good place to start. Let’s take a look at the words of Yahshua’s brother, Ya’akov (James 3:1-11 NRSV): Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. {2} For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. [You have heard the _expression, “bridle the tongue”?] {3} If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. {4} Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. {5} So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! {6} And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. [Gehenna]. {7} For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, {8} but no one can tame the tongue--a restless evil, full of deadly poison. {9} With it we bless YHWH the Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of YHWH. {10} From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. {11} Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? {12} Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grape vine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. {13} Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. {14} But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. {15} Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. {16} For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. {17} But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. {18} And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace." [“willing to yield” does NOT mean we should in any way compromise with sin. But don’t harangue, argue and beat someone over the head with “our” understanding of doctrine, simply because they don’t understand.] Controlling the tongue is a great starting place to begin if you truly desire to be a righteous Peacemaker. Hand in hand We can do all types of outward religious things like wearing tassels, eating kosher, honoring the Shabbat, attending Bible studies, and giving to the poor, but our true conversion is fully expressed in the way that we treat each other with the power of speech. Our true religion is shown through the words that we share. Simply put, the words we say are the truest _expression of what is in our hearts - what we believe Ya’akov says in James 1:26, “If anyone considers himself to be religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” So you see, controlling our tongues is absolutely necessary if we are to enter YHWH’s Kingdom! The Purpose The purpose of the spoken word is to express the emotions of the heart, to build up or tear down. The scriptures say in (Proverbs) 18:21, “The power of life and death is in the tongue.” We see this first in Genesis. Creation (life) and the fall (death) both came about because of the power of the tongue. Through the spoken word all things came into being. [as I said before]. And we know that the adversary spoke through the serpent “did Elohim really say?” casting a doubt in Eve’s mind. From Adam to the tower at Babel all people spoke the same language, which I believe was Hebrew. Because of the misuse of the mouth, Yahweh then scattered the tower builders and gave the different languages to mankind. The power of words is seen in the story of Yitz’chak (Isaac) giving his blessing in Gen. 27:35. Yitz’chak’s blessing was pronounced over the wrong son but the deed was done. Once the blessing was spoken it could not be retracted, because words are eternal in a sense. Once you say something you can never take it back. It’s out there, and if it is something bad, it continues to harm. How could that be, you say?. Unkind words cut like a knife, especially if from a loved one. Let me give you two examples, both on me: When our eldest daughter was about 15, I sent to get something that I needed quickly. She came back and said, “Daddy, I can’t find it.” In anger, I burst out with a thoughtless comment. Later, I cooled off and apologized, then didn’t think any more about it, but I found later that it hurt her, and likely still does when she thinks of it. It is there, stored in her memory forever. And if she relates it to her children, then it will continue on indefinitely. Another: Jo and I have been married 55-½ years. Early on, I asked her to give me a haircut. She did, bless her heart, but I didn’t like it, and I stupidly let her know about it, too! Well, that hurt her. She didn’t rail back at me, but she would never again cut my hair. I have repented of both those thoughtless incidents, plus lots more, and have apologized, but THEY ARE STILL THERE – IN MY CONSCIOUSNESS, AND IN THEIRS. Yahweh can forgive and forget our sins, but we really can’t forget, because they are there in our psyche, and always will be. Just think about it, haven’t you said something that you later regretted? Do you remember screaming out a bad word while you were mad? Have you ever slandered your brother or cursed in front of your children? Words slip out easily. And words expose who we really are. What we utter can influence nations from going to war, settle a dispute between a husband and a wife, and destroy the reputation of a good man. Words were given by Yahweh to reveal who we really are, to express our hearts. Simply put, words are thoughts verbalized. Yahshua said in (Matthew) 12:34, “The mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart.” What we think, what we believe will eventually manifest through the mouth. The thoughts we think become the words we say which influence the actions we take. So herein lies the battle: we must choose to speak either life or death. For in a split second our innermost thoughts can become our outermost expressions. We must choose our words carefully. Washington Irving once said, “The tongue is the only tool that grows sharper with use.” Are you a sharp-tongued individual? David prayed, (Psa 141:3 KJV) "Set a watch, O YHWH, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." Wise or Wicked? The words we speak are indications of what the state of our heart is. The Bible divides people into two categories; first there are the wise whose words are filled with encouragement, truth, love, and inspiration. Second there are the wicked or foolish, whose words are many and whose expressions are often evil. The wise person speaks blessings continually. “The tongue of the wise brings healing,” (Prov. 12:18-19 NRSV) "Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. {19} Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment." The scriptures also say in Prov.15 that a wise or righteous person speaks the right things at the right times and these words are pure and pleasant. The Bible often speaks of the wicked by reference to their speech. The wicked are full of violent words, which are hurtful, and “the advice of the wicked is deceitful,” Prov. 12:5. To the wicked Yahshua said, Mat.12:34., “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” While the righteous pray that Yahweh will use their tongue for good, the wicked say (Psa 12:4 NRSV{4} those who say, "With our tongues we will prevail; our lips are our own--who is our master?"" Lashon Hara is a Hebrew term that means “the evil tongue,” or “evil speech” or even “negative communication.” It includes defamation, slander, slur, lying, harmful information, and perverse speech. We all know people who claim to be super-spiritual believers yet their witness is destroyed by a tongue full of gossip. The basis against speaking lashon hara is found in Lev. 19:16-17 NRSV: "You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am YHWH. {17} You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself." Titus 3:2 tells us to “speak evil of no man.” These verses mean more than just lying. Lashon hara is negative or perverse speech – even if it is true! A biblical example of lashon hara is the twelve spies who were sent to inspect the Promised Land. The ten spies who brought a negative report were spreading lashon hara while the two spies, Joshua and Caleb, whose report was made in faith spoke words that glorified Yahweh. Just as the ten spies who spoke lashon hara caused Isra’el to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, the lashon hara we speak will also bring harmful consequences. Lashon hara also includes curses, either against another person or self-imposed. These statements can be wishes of evil, negative confessions, and “you never” or “you always” statements. These declarations must be dealt with or they will bring penalties. Yes, life and death is in the tongue and we, as believers must make a choice to either yield our tongue to the Spirit or suffer the effects of the sin of lashon hara. (1 Cor 6:9-11 KJV) "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of YHWH? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, {10} Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of YHWH. {11} And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Master Yahshua, and by the Spirit of our Elohim." (1 Pet 2:1 KJV) "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings," and the apostle Paul said, “You must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator,” Colossians 3:8-9. Here the teacher compared evil speech with anger, rage, and malice. “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. And do not grieve the Ruach HaKodesh, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” Ephesians 4:29 & 30. This verse undoubtedly shows that unwholesome speech is so evil that it grieves the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for “unwholesome” is “sapros” it literally is defined as “rotten.” Lashon hara is like nasty, stinking rotten meat. And just how exactly do you keep meat from going bad? You season it with salt. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone,” Colossians 4:6. How do we do that? If you desire to tame your tongue and win this constant battle over the habit of speaking lashon hara there are basically two steps that need to be taken. 1) Meditate and speak Scripture. 2) Speak less and listen more. This may seem elementary but this two-step action plan will equip you with the tools necessary to say, as the Psalmist, “My tongue shall speak righteousness.” Step Number One: Meditate on Torah and speak Torah We’ve already shown that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” The old cliché is true, “garbage in, garbage out.” But, what if you fill your mind with good things? “Good in, good out” works just the same! Just ask the Messiah, who said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him,” Mat.12:35. Like a super computer that just needs to be programmed correctly, your tongue’s output will equal your mind’s input. This is why we are told in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” From thinking on things that are of good report we ourselves will become of good report. Clearly, what you think is what you say. So when you meditate on or think on the written instructions found in the Torah your mouth will utter words of the Messiah. Yahshua, the living Torah’s words were “spirit and life.” Torah words allowed Yahshua to minister healing truth to those who came to Him and even rebuke the adversary without fear. The book of Ephesians says, “Let the word of the Messiah dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to YHWH. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Master Yahshua, giving thanks to Yahweh the Father through him.” His word should dwell in us, in our heart and then will overflow out of us into our speech. Step Number Two: Speak Less and Listen More When you meditate on the Scriptures, then you will automatically move into this second phase of controlling the tongue. Not only will your words be more powerful, but they will also be less frequent. As the time you spend in the Word increases, verses like this one will become more real to you. James 1:9, “Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak.” The Bible is full of verses exhorting believers to tame the tongue and open the ears. Perhaps this is why we were created with one tongue and two ears, so we can listen twice as much as we speak. “Greet all people with a joyful countenance.” Wise people know when to speak and know to think before speaking. “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil,” (Proverbs) 15:28. The result of a person speaking less will yield more time to listen. The idea is to really hear what the person says and not just listen to the words. Profitable listening does not happen by accident, it is intentional. Try looking eye to eye with someone as they speak and truly listen to what they are intending to communicate. Focused listening means that you not only lend your ear, but also pay close attention to what the person is saying, the tone they are using, and the body language they are moving with. A recent scientific study showed that the average person speaks for only 17 seconds before he is interrupted by the individual he is talking to. Think about how long you allow someone to talk before you burst in with your comments. Do you allow more than 17 seconds? If you’re like most people then the answer is “no.” That’s why many agree that “it is better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.” Listening allows others to speak and gives you time to meditate on a Scriptural answer. Active listening has benefits. Our Example The next time you doubt the power of silence just remember the example set for us by the Messiah Yahshua. Recall that when He needed to address His accusers that He did so with authority, and when He needed to be silent He shut up. Our words are like seeds. In the parable of the seed and the sower, the scriptures declare that the “seed is the word of YHWH,” Luke 8:11. Like seed our word goes forth on different types of soil. This seed begins to grow and produce fruit. Now the fruit is either good or evil, depending on the type of seed. The harvest we reap in life is a direct result of the seeds or words we have sown. “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,” Prov. 15:4. One way to have the most impact with your words and your silence is to really think before you speak a single word. Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say, selfish? hurtful? critical? or helpful?” or “How would Yahshua respond to this remark?” Though it makes common sense to think before speaking, this seems to be a problem for most people. “When words are many, sin is not absent but he who holds his tongue is wise,” Prov. 10:19. From Inspiration to Application This two-step Biblical action plan can greatly affect your tongue, your attitude, your life, and the life of those people who cross your path. But, just doing the right actions will not ultimately give you the lasting change needed to tame the tongue. If you really desire to control your language please understand that the journey truly begins with repentance. Repentance literally means to do a “180 degree turning from, and a returning to.” There are so many Scriptures that speak on this subject, it is impossible to cover them all. If you wish to study this more, and I truly believe we ALL should want to, then get your concordance, and look up words such as these: Lips; Mouth; Tongue; Word; Words; Throat. Etc. Study the related Scriptures. Then simply keep what we have talked about today uppermost in your mind. Ask YHWH to guard your lips and your mind – to set a watch, as David did: (Psa 141:3 KJV) "Set a watch, O Yah, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." Hallelu-YAH! (Thanks to YATI for some of the information in this article [], and Hebrew Roots, PO Box 98, Lakewood, WI 54138 for the La Shon Hara article.)

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