The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21 (NIV, 1984)
One of our most recent graduates is moving out west to take a position with a ministry similar to Adult & Teen Challenge MidSouth. He is (or was) very excited about the idea of “starting over” at his age and hoping to help younger men avoid the mistakes he has made in life. However, as the time drew near for his move, he told me the enemy had caused him to begin to doubt that he could accomplish anything for God. That was until his last Sunday at church when his pastor pulled him aside to tell him how proud the church was of his transformation and willingness to serve—to the point they wanted to partner with him with a small monthly gift just as they would one of their missionaries. He explained to his pastor that, while the gift was both gracious and unnecessary, he had already given him the greatest gift by affirming his decision to go and not believe the discouraging words of the enemy.
At any given moment, we may encounter someone whose present condition has them hanging in the balance between hope and desperation. What they hear in that moment may have potentially eternal consequences. The Proverb above teaches that words are far more than just a means of communication. They possess the “power of life and death” to those who are impacted by their message and those who speak them will bear the consequences of the result.
I have heard it put like this, “You may not remember the words that someone said to you, but you will never forget how they made you feel.” I believe that’s a pretty good interpretation of this Old Testament truth. When we live, walk, and speak under the influence of the Holy Spirit, He will always give us the right word at the right time!