Words of Life and Death


Rummaging in the basement for a book recently, I found a book I wasn’t looking for: Encouragement: The Key to Caring by Dr. Larry Crabb and Dr. Dan Allender.  It was a good find.  The authors define encouragement as “the kind of expression that helps someone want to be a better Christian, even when life is rough.”[1]  This is the kind of expression recommended in Hebrews 10:23-25 – “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”  (emphasis mine)

However, if we don’t believe our words matter – that they have real power – we might think such encouragement is pointless.  Making a case for the power of our words, the authors cite these Proverbs:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Prov. 18:21
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” – Prov. 12:25
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” – Prov. 15:4
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” – Prov. 16:24
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” – Prov. 25:11[2]

In these Proverbs, words have the power of life and death.  Power to lift or break a spirit.  They have real power to influence others for good, or for bad.  They can influence our health, bodily and spiritually.  Our words are one of the hardest things for us to control – especially online – and unless we realize their power, we’re too likely to take them lightly.  James wrote that taming our tongues may be our biggest challenge, and if we can tame it, we can tame our whole body.  (James 3:2-3)

Therefore, pray for more encouraging, more powerful words today, and that God would cleanse our hearts, the spring from which our words come[3], so we may praise Him and provide “sweetness to the soul and health to the body” of those around us.

It won’t happen all at once, and all will stumble, but as the saying goes:

Yard by yard, life is hard!
Inch by inch, life’s a cinch!

Photo by Kevin Luke on Unsplash

[1] Crabb, Larry and Dan Allender.  Encouragement: The Key to Caring (1984).  P. 10.
[2] Ibid.  P. 19.  See also Proverbs 25:20 and James 3:5-6.
[3] James 3:11

5 thoughts on “Words of Life and Death

  1. This is a fabulous post! Our words are so important- they can make or break people. I love the bible verses you’ve given. I’m going to make a note of them. Thank you so much for this encouraging post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The verses you chose to share from the Bible are such good reminders that words can be daggers to the heart or bandages for a broken spirit. When I see children in stores, etc., being unjustly chastised or belittled by their parents, my heart breaks for them. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of what spills out of our mouths.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s