The Power of the Tongue (2)
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Prov. 18:21).
Now we turn to two examples of the power of life being in the tongue, Joseph and Daniel.
When Joseph was young, his brothers had not been kind to him. In fact, they hated him. Jacob loved Rachel which caused Jacob to treat Joseph, Rachel’s son, as his favourite. Joseph’s brothers resented this favouritism, and Joseph’s dreams, which revealed that in the future they would bow to Joseph because he would be greater than they, made matters even worse. In their bitterness and hatred, they sold Joseph into slavery, not caring whether Joseph survived the experience or not.
When Jacob died, the brothers were afraid Joseph would finally have his revenge and make them suffer. Joseph certainly had the power to do so. How did Joseph use his tongue? He could have called for some soldiers, told them to arrest Joseph’s brothers and put them in prison. Joseph could make his brothers suffer the way they had caused him to suffer. He could even have had them executed. He could have used his tongue for death.
Joseph did not do that. He showed there was the power of life in his tongue. Joseph confessed that God used those terrible sins of his brothers to save the lives of many people. He promised to care for his brothers and their children by nourishing them. He comforted his brothers concerning their guilty consciences and spoke kindly to them.
Our last example of the power of life in the tongue is Daniel. Many young Jewish boys had been taken captive to Babylon. Daniel and his three friends were among them. The king provided these boys with the best education possible at that time. He even gave these captives excellent food. However, Daniel and his friends would break God’s law if they ate this food. It was unclean.
How did Daniel use his tongue? He did not give a list of excuses for eating the unclean food. He did not remind his friends there were no priests around who would be upset with them for eating unclean food. He did not show the power of death in his tongue by disobeying God’s law. With his tongue, Daniel made request for food which would not violate God’s law. Daniel and his friends would walk in the way of life. They even showed concern for the Babylonian man who took care of them, Melzar. Melzar was afraid he would be in trouble, if the boys he was supposed to nourish looked unhealthy. Instead of using his tongue in a strong, harsh manner, Daniel carefully proposed a ten-day trial period. There was the power of life in Daniel’s tongue.
The real power of life in the tongue is in the gospel. Think of someone who is becoming aware of the seriousness of sin. He or she feels guilty. This guilt becomes a tremendous burden which they seek to escape. What are they supposed to do? Who can help?
What happens if such a person turns to someone who does not know the truth of salvation? There are two possibilities. Today most Christians would say one has to open one’s heart to let Jesus come in. Accept Christ’s offer of salvation! Make the decision to have Jesus be your personal Lord and Saviour! The one suffering with guilt could also be told to do good works. Obey the commandments to show God you are worthy to be saved! Go out into the sinful world and win your little part of it for Christ! You could do your part to help establish the kingdom of Christ here on earth! Taking this type of advice would leave the guilty sufferer laden with a great burden. These tongues with their false gospel have the power of death.
The truth of the gospel is that by the gift of faith we are to believe in Christ. By faith, we trust God’s Word that Christ has taken all of our sins upon Himself and paid for them in His whole life of suffering, especially in what He endured on the cross. This would only leave us spiritually neutral, having no guilt. But God also takes the perfect obedience of Christ and puts that on our account. Now not only are we no longer guilty, we can appear before God as those who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Those who believe this message are relieved of their burden and have hope for what God has in store for them. Tongues which speak the truth of the gospel have the power of life.
God tells us there are consequences for how we use the power of the tongue. We are told, “and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
Notice, we will “eat” this fruit. We are not merely to look at this fruit, either near or distant so its effects on ourselves can be limited. No, we will “eat” it. It will be in our mouths. We will swallow it and it will become part of us. What will be in our mouths as a result of the fruit of our words? Will we eat something disgusting, which tastes awful and feels terrible in our mouths and stomachs, and make us sick, or will we taste something delicious, having a pleasing texture and give us health and strength?
Think of the fruits of the speech in the examples we examined. The fruit Jezebel tasted was not good. She still suffers and will continue to do so everlastingly. Jehoshaphat, though saved, experienced bitter fruit as well. He didn’t quite learn his lesson. He arranged a marriage between his son and a daughter of Ahab, Athaliah. This wicked woman nearly destroyed David’s line, but God graciously preserved it and kept His promise to give His people their Messiah.
We also saw examples of the fruit of life. Joseph and Daniel are still examples to us of living in the fear of God. They experienced God’s blessing, the fullness of His love and the hope of everlasting life in heaven.
May God give us His grace that we show the power of life in our tongues that we may eat the fruit of everlasting life with His church in glory.