The bible tells us that our words are important, even vital, to our well-being and the well-being of those who hear them. They can mean life or death to the hearer and to ourselves also. The words of others also carry the same power and we must be careful of both what we say and also what we receive.
Prov 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
The latter part of this verse tells us that we will eat the fruit that is ripened from our words. If the seed of our words bears rotten fruit we will have sown death to ourselves but if it's good seed and so bears good fruit they will bring us life.
You will also notice that there are only two options or outcomes from the words we say or receive. Life or Death. There's no carefree way in the middle. This is brought out more in the book of Matthew, Chapter 12, verses 35-36.
Mat 12:35-36 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment."
Here Jesus tells us that every idle word that we say without giving them any proper attention we will have to give an account for. They come from the heart and show what we are really like. Are they words that lift up and edify or are they words that bring down and destroy? "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
God looks at the intent of the words we use and at the attitude that produced them and he sees what is coming from your heart. As Prov 11:13 says...
Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”
The words we say must not just be the right ones, truthful and just, but also must be said with God's viewpoint in mind. It is quite possible to tell the truth (humanly) and yet be using it in a way that will tear down and destroy faith and life.
At the beginner level people who are idle and not given to studying the word get into bad habits with bad results.
1 Tim 5:13 At the same time, they learn to go around from house to house since they have nothing else to do. Not only this, but they also gossip and get involved in other people's business, saying things they shouldn't say.
God shows how far we can go wrong in the words we use by bringing out the end result of gossip and tale-bearing.
Rom 1:29-31 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
Is it bad people who become gossips or is it gossips who become bad people? Either way it does not make good reading as a character reference!
It isn't just what you say either but also how you say it! Using information to give a bad impression can have devastating consequences.
As a 'for instance', take the spies who were sent into Canaan to report on it's layout and productiveness and it's inhabitants. They all brought back truthful reports when looked at humanly. But the manner of the reporting back had two different mindsets. Joshua and Caleb reported the facts and then said let's go up and claim the land. The other ten spies also reported the same facts but then claimed that the Israelites could not possess the land because the obstacles were too great. The facts were not wrong. It's the conclusion based on the facts that was bad. They did not consider God as a positive factor in the equation!
Num 13:32-33 "And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had spied out unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."
Those ten spies spoke the truth about Canaan but did not consider the strength of God in coming to their conclusions. They concentrated only on the size of the inhabitants, and the fortifications of the cities and they caused the children of Israel to have fear, doubt and un-belief. You'll notice also that for a child of God to not factor Him into the equation is called "evil reporting".
Because, as a result, the people doubted God and did not go into the promised land, perhaps one and a half million who were over the age of twenty died in the wilderness. Death and life are indeed in the power of the tongue!
Num 14:28-30 "Say unto them, As I live, says Jehovah, surely as you have spoken in my ears, so will I do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, that have murmured against me; shall not come into the land...."
Notice how these word affected both the speakers and the hearers. Those who brought the evil report died, but so did all the people over twenty years old who accepted the report rather than trust God. They had always been complaining and saying that God had brought them into the wilderness to kill them. Now, despite all God's miracles on their behalf, they were willing to use these reports as confirmation for their lack of faith. The result of them receiving and accepting these words though was death.
Every word that we say should build up and edify and reflect the mind of God where that matter is concerned. Otherwise it's probably best not said. Do not gossip or carry bad reports. The apostle Peter put it this way.
1 Pet 4:10-11 "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
Now some take this as referring only to teachers and pastors but they would be expected to teach and preach from God's word anyway. We are all ministers though and all have received spiritual gifts. We have all been commissioned to spread the good news about Jesus Christ. So my own thought is that this applies to all of us.
Pro 21:2 “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”
Before, we noticed that death and life are in the power of the tongue, and now this verse tells us that troubles (sorrows) also come from this member. So troubles and sorrows are part of the "death" that an unguarded tongue brings. Do you remember that when talking to a man who wanted to follow him but used the extended funeral of his father as a reason why he could not do it straight away, Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead"? Though alive the sorrows we bring on ourselves make us 'living dead'. Suffering and sickness and pain and disease are all part of the "death" that we can bring on ourselves and others through speaking words that are not based on the oracles of God.
So we should not give people a bad report regarding God's love or power or character or mercy or ability to help. God has not lost his abilities since the Apostles died! He is as powerful today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow, and indeed he has put that power inside of us through the Holy Spirit. But we have to believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths for that power to manifest.
Rom 10:9 "He that confesses with his mouth and believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord shall be saved."
We see that for God's provisions to become ours we have to believe in our hearts AND confess with our mouth. Faith comes by hearing so we must not bring unbelief to others by what we say. Faith also is enacted through our words, so what we say and we believe in our hearts decides what is manifested in our lives.
In this we are following the example of God himself. Whilst he could do everything just by thinking, this is not what happens. God works through his word. In fact he has exalted his word even above his name. God spoke and the worlds were made, and it's because of his word that they are maintained in existence..
Heb 1:3 "God upholds everything by the word of his power"
Everything that exists continues because God established it to do so by his word. God does not have to keep doing special creative miracles to make trees or animals or people reproduce. He said how they should reproduce and they continue to do it accordingly!
This is an example for his people that their words must be established and that we must mean what we say and say what we mean and stand behind what we say even if it costs us dear. Psalm 15 sums this up very well I find.
Psa 15:1-5 "A Psalm of David. O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved."
This psalm is of course describing Jesus; only He has walked blamelessly! These godly attitudes and courage do not come to us by trying harder! They are ours when we let Jesus live through us. Only Jesus in us can live as God wants us to live. We have to study God's word and let Holy Spirit guide us in the way that we should go. Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened up for you. Jesus is the way!
Isaiah 50:4 "The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary."
God wants to give us knowledge and wisdom and insight in all things pertaining to this life we are living even more than we want to receive it. We just have to go to him to get all we need at any time, 24/7.
God even tells us what he is going to do beforehand. He works through us mortals and as he has given us authority over the earth, he gets people who will agree with him to "say" what his plans are to redeem mankind.
Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets."
Our God is a great God. Our God is a good God. He is building a nation of people one by one who have his mind and heart.
Learning to speak like him, and to speak the oracles of God, is a big part of that process, from baptism to when we are fully changed to be like his son Jesus.