Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Proverbs 18:21 explains the power of your tongue.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Hateful comments are words of death.
It is important to notice that Proverbs 18 has a context that provides necessary information for understanding verse 21. Look at verses 17-21.
The first in his dispute is deemed righteous, but his neighbor will come and examine him. The lot will put an end to disputes, and between powerful contenders it will decide. A brother who is offended is worse than a city of strength, and quarrels are like the bars of a fortification. From the fruit of a man’s mouth, his stomach will be satisfied, as for the yield of his lips, it will satisfy. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love her will eat of her fruit.
We know that verses 20 and 21 are joined by the concepts of mouth, lips, and tongue. They are also joined by the principle of words producing fruit. It is verses 17-19 that introduce the specific situations by which the words of our mouth produce fruit. Verses 17-19 address the problems of contention, strife, offensiveness, and quarrels.
Peacemakers speak words of life.
God’s Word tells us that our words have the power of death or the power of life when we speak them. Jesus understood this principle of Scripture when he spoke in Matthew 12:33-37.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Some people are offended if you merely mention Jesus Christ. That is on them because they hate Jesus. The Prince of Peace warned about the divisive reactions of people in Luke 12:51.
Do you think that I have come to grant peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!
However, some Christians say hateful things about other people. Christians will be held responsible for their words of hate. This is why Paul taught in Romans 12:18-21 that we are responsible for our part of living together in peace.
If it is possible on your part, be at peace with all people. Do not take revenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. But “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this, you will heap up coals of fire upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Christians are not to be vengeful or angry. Christians are to love their enemies and care for them. Some Christians hate sinners. I would ask them, how much hate does it take to turn a sinner to Jesus? I believe that it is impossible to hate a person into turning to Jesus, but it is possible to love a person well and so influence them to give themselves to Jesus Christ.
Words of love toward an enemy are words of life.
Christians must follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:43-48.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven, because he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not the tax collectors also do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing that is remarkable? Do not the Gentiles also do the same? Therefore you be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Words of peace are words of life.
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
Words of comfort are words of life.
1 Thessalonians 5:11-24
Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as indeed you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and rule over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them beyond all measure in love, because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, console the discouraged, help the sick, be patient toward all people. See to it that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue good toward one another and toward all people. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete, blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, who also will do this.
Words of condemnation are words of death.
So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what edifies one another. Do not destroy the work of God on account of food. All things are clean, but it is wrong for the person who eats and stumbles in the process. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine or to do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is weakened. The faith that you have, have with respect to yourself before God. Blessed is the one who does not pass judgment on himself by what he approves. But the one who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not do so from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.
False teachers tell us, “You are suffering because you are full of unbelief and doubt. You are out of God’s will when you are suffering. It is a sin when you don’t take authority over sickness and set yourself free from suffering.” We should never add to the suffering of another person by damning them, shaming them, and passing judgment upon them.
It is shocking to hear those Christians who condemn other Christians for physical illness and suffering. Especially, when we know that Jesus wants us to speak words that comfort and encouragement.
It is hateful and sinful to condemn a person who is suffering.
Words of encouragement are words of life.
Instead of putting someone down, we ought to be lifting them up.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brothers, rejoice, be restored, be encouraged, be in agreement, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Humble words are words of life.
There are false teachers that arrogantly preach that God’s will for you is selfish indulgence and carnal comfort. These fakers boast about God giving them luxurious homes, expensive airplanes, and so much money that they seem unable to count it.
This is not how the Scriptures tell Christians to live or talk.
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, exhort you to live in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;
Words of gratitude are words of life.
You do not need to be longing for more money and more stuff. You can be grateful where you are. You can be grateful for what you have now. This is the will of God.
And the peace of Christ must rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God, and everything whatever you do in word or in deed, giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus to God the Father through him.