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Proverbs 18:21 ESV
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Death through the tongue
Gossip leads to slander, and slander leads to death
Gossip has a heart of criticism
Gossip speaks a partial truth with a heart of a critic
We are all fallen, that is why gossip is like a tasty morsel of food to our depraved hearts. Its the feeling of "I know something you don’t know"
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ro 14:4.
fueled by a hurt heart
often times it comes from unresolved anger that grew into hate
The goal is to tear someone down
Sometimes a roomer is more difficult to stop than a forest fire like points to.
Both Gossip and Slander prove that there is not a heart that longs for restoration
Sticks and stones may brake my bones but words untamed destroy me.
Transition with Proverbs 12:18
Life through the tongue
Speaking the truth in love
It doesn’t always feel good
It doesn’t always feel bad
This action proves that there is a longing for restoration
Speaking the truth in love leads to encouragement which leads to life
Love drives the tongue, which directs your life
Gospel Truth
If these eyes with which you chose to look down onto others so that you could gossip about them has begun to be turned inward so that you see the depravity of your own heart, then there is good news. Jesus came so that you can be set free from a past of gossip and walk in the newness of life embracing obedience to the call to build others up in speech, to be an agent of life and reconciliation, and no longer to do the bidding of the enemy.
This is a gospel issue, moral conformity isn't enough. That can only last so long, if you're serious about taming your tongue you must beg God for the power that is given through his Holy Spirit to transform our hearts anew.


The tongue has the power to give life to others, or bring death to others. Depending on what you choose to do with your tongue, your tongue will do to you. If you bring death, you will find death because you will eat of the fruit of your tongue.
So I need to look at the death and the life side of the power of the tongue
People do this all the time, they slander to bring people down so they can feel better about themselves. it is often the things that we idolize the most that we criticize so harshly in others.
The passage talks about the fact that the person loves their tongue either speaking life or death, this means that it is not just a matter of outward conformity, it is a matter of a change in the heart. So in order to make this message stick, it must be spoken to the heart. People know intellectually that they are not to speak gossip, but it is a matter of the affections that keep them from living the way that God has designed them to live.
Probably, then, it is not so much “control” that James intends to illustrate but “direction”: as the bit determines the direction of the horse, so the tongue can determine the destiny of the individual. Believers who exercise careful control of the tongue are able also to direct their whole life in its proper, divinely charted course: they are “perfect” (v. ). But when that tongue is not restrained, small though it is, the rest of the body is likely to be uncontrolled and undisciplined also.
James’s second illustration makes exactly the same point as the first: very small things can direct very large things.
Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 153.
James could choose no stronger contrast to illustrate the duality of the tongue than its use in “praising” God and “cursing” human beings.
Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 163.


There will come a time when three words uttered with charity and meekness shall receive a far more blessed reward than three thousand volumes written with disdainful sharpness of wit.
Richard Hooker
For this reason God surrounded it with a double fortification; with the fence of the teeth and the barrier of the lips, that it may not rashly and without circumspection utter words which are not convenient. Well, dost thou say it will not endure this? Bridle it therefore within. Restrain it by means of the teeth, as though giving over its body to these executioners and making them bite it. For it is better that when it sins now it should be bitten by the teeth, than one day when it seeks a drop of water and is parched with heat, to be unable to obtain this consolation. In many other ways indeed it is wont to sin, by raillery and blasphemy, by uttering foul words, by slander, swearing, and perjury.
John Chrysostom, “Instructions to Catechumens,” in Saint Chrysostom: On the Priesthood, Ascetic Treatises, Select Homilies and Letters, Homilies on the Statues, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. W. R. W. Stephens and T. P. Brandram, vol. 9, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 163.
Shakespeare wrote in Othello, ‘He who steals my purses steals trash, but he that filches my good name … makes me poor indeed.’21
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 139.


How does this proverb relate to Jesus? He did come and say what he said so that we could have life and have it abundantly...


There is a legend of a king who asked his trusted servant to bring him the most valuable object in his kingdom. The servant returned carrying, on a silver platter, a human tongue. The king then asked his servant to bring him the most dangerous object in the realm. The servant returned again with a human tongue. By words people and kingdoms can be built up or torn down: ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 136.
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