Is it True that Life and Death is in The Power of the Tongue?

31 March 2013 by Rev Dr Steven Kau – 


The Bible says that “the tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) Of course, the “tongue” in this verse represents that which tongues produce: words. Jesus affirmed that “men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words, you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37) The words we speak will either build us up or tear us down. (Proverbs 10:14; 13:2-3) Our tongue will either bring blessings or curses upon us, from both God and man, in both the present time and for eternity.


Our words have enormous power for good or evil; yes, our tongues can even kill or save lives. For example, a false witness can cause the death of an innocent man (Proverbs 25:18), or a comforter can give hope to a suicidal person by an uplifting word. (Proverbs 12:27) A slanderer can destroy the reputation of a good person (Psalm 52:2; 1 Cor. 6:10) A seductive woman can, by her tempting words, ruin a man’s life. (Proverbs 23:27; Proverbs 7:5; Proverbs 5:3) Godly parents can teach their children the truth of God’s Word (Proverbs 22:6), setting them on the path of life. A wise counselor can steer the young through the perils and vulnerabilities of their youth. (2 Tim. 2:22)



The Bible vividly describes bitter words as arrows (Ps 64:3), sharp and poisonous as a serpent (Ps 140:3). James tells us that the tongue is like a fire, ignited by hell itself. (James 3:16) How many lives were destroyed as a result of the fiery, manipulative words spoken by Adolf Hitler in the 1930’s and early 40’s? Violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.” (Proverbs 10:11) As someone aptly said, “The tongue is only three inches long but it can kill a man six feet high.” How true?

Good words give life. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23) Timing is important. The wise person will speak the truth when and where it’s fitting and needful. The one who brags that he’s “brutally frank” is the one who usually forgets the importance of timing his remarks. Someone once said, “Always tell the truth but don’t always be telling it.”

The tone of our words can be just as important as their meaning. “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” (Proverbs 10:11) The power of life and death is indeed in your tongue. Choose life!



Rev. Dr. Steven Kau is the pastor of Faith Covenant Church. The church address is at 1-1 Jalan Putra Mahkota 7/5B, 47650 Putra Heights, Subang Jaya, Selangor. Sunday service in English starts at 10 am. His email contact –


Disclaimer: The views or opinions expressed by the columnists are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Christianity


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