Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruits.
This area of scripture identifies a contrasting way to live your life. You can speak words that lead to death or you can speak words that are life. We as Christians are to be caught up with Jesus, the Prince of Life, and therefore we are careful with our words and speak things that lead to life. 1 Peter 3:10 (ESV) says, “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. Here is a New Testament understanding of the life side of the power of the tongue. It is associated with loving life and seeing good days. Could anything be clearer? Of course my answer is that I wish to love the life I have and want my days to be full of goodness. Peter made it clear when he said, “Then take control of your tongue and do not let evil be spoken from it”. In Matthew 12:36 and 37 (ESV) Jesus says, “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.” I know this was spoken prior to the cross and the words that Jesus said deals with a broader audience, but nevertheless it is directed towards our speech.
What Jesus said is by our words we will be justified, by our words we will be condemned. I would conclude there is a need for us to say things that are good. In Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) it says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ” This word is very direct. Do not let bad things come out of your mouth, but say things that have a direct influence to build people up. Paul is saying, be sensitive to the occasion. In other words, use fitting words for the situation you find yourself in. The ultimate end is to give grace to those who hear. The empowerment of God’s grace through our words is absolutely essential to build community and maintain community. This to me must be the goal of good speech.