By Dr. Virginia Phillips
Proverbs 18:21 (AMP) “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].”
The tongue has the power of life & death
In my counseling chambers, I encounter numerous broken people who have grown up and are yet not free because of words, which became curses, were spoken constantly at them, to them and around them as they were growing up. They live but their spirit is in bondage and they will not be free until they are delivered from those murderous words. Solomon likened the gossiper, whisperer and evil speech to the serpent – “Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment, and babbler (tale-bearer) is no better” (Ecclesiastes 10:11).
Unfortunately, loose, unkind and critical words happen amongst leaders in the church, are spoken on national television, to the body of believers on a Sunday morning. No wonder we are being consumed by evil when we have been given liberty – we have forgotten who we are and how we are to live. We are the light of the world. How can we allow blessings and evil to proceed out of the same mouth? I spoke to our staff about the tongue and how our sisters and brothers, husbands and children are held in bondage by the words we speak. Although they were intercessors and doing good work in the kingdom, some had not reached that level of understanding of what loose conversation does to the foundation of the body of Christ. I gave them some examples:
When you say that your husband will never learn to love you as he ought, you are saying God is unable to do the impossible and you will treat your husband as though he will not reach his potential as a husband. In fact, you are believing a lie, the word says: “In Christ all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) and Psalms 100:5 backs this up – “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting and his truth endureth to all generations.” The process works like this: You live with unbelief, it captures your heart, you speak it to others; they agree with you and nothing changes. Agreement whether good or evil out of the heart of a believer can either free or bind.
Another example is: When you say something judgmental about a member of another’s family – like a child in the family will always smoke dope and lead others astray. Speaking this over and over because of what you see binds what you see, binds what you say and what’s even more murderous, others agree. Your attitude doesn’t change and your level of love does not reach out to restore. What needs to happen: Two or three should come into agreement that the child’s behavior will change and pray the word of God into that child’s life until God works the impossible.
The ingredients for change are: Love, faith in the word of God, appropriation of God’s word and prayer, which will bring about a change of heart. Then you can speak from the heart of God. How many times have we judged a drunk, a prostitute, a mental patient, simply by speaking ill of them, passing them by with disdain or indifference? Does prayer work? It is better to pray for life and restoration than ignore them completely. In fact, there are numerous of these people who were once in church and need restoration. How do we restore such a one? Galatians 6:1 tells us: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault (sin), ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” We are to share each others’ troubles and problems, in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody (Galatians 6:2-3 NIV).
What right do you have to condemn?
When we speak ill of another, we are judging, therefore bringing judgment upon ourselves. As we continue to do this in the body of Christ, we become weak and sickly because we have not rightfully discerned the body of Christ. If we would judge ourselves, we will not be examined of God and judged in this way. This example of scriptural test was taken from 1 Corinthians 11:29-31 as it was related to communion but it can also be applied to the body of Christ as we judge one another. We are warned against this judgment numerous times in scripture. In James 4:11-12 we are again warned, “Don’t speak evil against each other (evil for believers is anything that tears down another’s reputation or does not build them up), my dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize each other and condemn each other then you are criticizing and condemning God’s law. But you are not a judge who can decide whether the law is right or wrong; your job is to obey it. God alone, who made the law can rightly judge among us. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to condemn your neighbor?
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