Let’s consider another set of verses to further help in this area of the tongue. The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked (Proverbs 10:11). A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
Let’s continue the thought of the work of the Holy Spirit and the tongue. I believe that Proverbs 10:11 is referring to the regenerating work that the Holy Spirit can do in a person’s heart through the Word of God. The righteous man who is teaching his tongue through the instruments of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will find his tongue a well of life. In John 4:14 and John 7:38, we find references to the “well of living water.”
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14).
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).
In both instances, Christ refers to the work of salvation done through Himself, the living water. You can see the word picture. Now let’s tie in our verse in Proverbs 10. The regenerated man feasting upon the Word of God and invigorated by the water of life can experience a well of life that brings nourishment to others through his conversations with fellow believers as well as unbelievers. This is the glorious privilege of the righteous. Thus, a mouth supplied from the heavenly waters is a well of life.
As we conclude in this specific area of our tongue, consider the references to the tongues in Proverbs 15:1-7: “A soft answer,” “the tongue of the wise,” “a wholesome tongue,” “the lips of the wise,” and “the prayer of the upright.” What a collection of thoughts about our tongues. These keywords touch one of the greatest spheres of human influence. If we can rule our speech, surrendering our tongue and lips to the keeping of God’s Spirit, a world of trouble we would save ourselves and others.
Do your words align with the teaching of Scripture? Consider the following verses:
There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health (Proverbs 12:18).
Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad (Proverbs 12:25). Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).
Do your words encourage others to move on for Christ? Do your words help lift the heavy load that others are bearing? It amazes me to see the lack of empathy that the average Christian has for fellow believers. We live in a self-consumed world. How do I know this? Take a look at the average person’s Facebook page. They are consumed with sharing pictures of their dog, their artwork, their cars, their food choices, and their hobbies. We live in a “selfie” world where most people believe that everything revolves around them. “My happiness” is the most important thing in this world. Yet, we find more unhappiness and more despondency than ever. Why is this? Because happiness is not found in the “self-life”; instead it is found in a “self-less” life. We should be looking for folks to encourage and help. This is what these verses are trying to encourage us to do with our speech. Is your tongue an instrument that promotes pleasantness or do your words make others stoop?
Finally, let’s consider two more verses from the book of Proverbs.
A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! (Proverbs 15:23).
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Proverbs 25:11).
These two verses reveal the satisfaction that words can have to both the speaker and the hearer. In Proverbs 15:23, the speaker has joy by what he says. He is not getting his satisfaction by tearing someone else down or speaking abusively. The second part of this verse indicates that a godly speaker knows the correct time to say things or the time to refrain from saying something. Having this confidence produces a joy in the heart of the speaker.
We then come to Proverbs 25:11. The word “fitly” is a very curious one in the Hebrew. It signifies “wheels.” So what do “wheels” have to do with speaking? It deals with the hearer, refering to words which roll smoothly and pleasantly from the lips of the speaker to the ears of the hearer. In this time era, carts had no wheels, and most things were carried on horseback. On some occasions, makeshift wheels would be needed to ease the burden of travel. Today, we have wheels that are light and smooth so that carrying a burden is easy. The application for a wise man is to learn to “carry” his words with ease so that they are not burdensome to the hearer. The wise man speaks so that his words do not jar or shock to hearer. The speaker’s words should not produce hurt by any harshness or roughness, nor should his words leave a painful rut behind in the memory.
Let me close with a great example of words that were fitly spoken from the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord always spoke graciously; in fact, in John 1:14, he was said to be “full of grace and truth.” People did not always agree with Him, and there were times that folks were riled up at His speech. However, we learn that “never man spake like this man” in John 7:46. There are a few other references in the Gospels that reveal Christ’s grasp of the power of words. One such verse is Luke 4:22 where they “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” Peter says in his first epistle that there was no “guile found in his mouth…when he was reviled, [He] reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” The Lord created all things by the word of His power (Psalm 33:6-9; Hebrews 11:3). He spoke and a storm ceased (Mark 4:39); He spoke to an unclean spirit and it came out of a man (Mark 5:8,13); He spoke and a man was raised from death (John 11:43,44). For those of us who minister to people, the physical tool that we must use is our words. Let’s make sure that we understand the Biblical concept of the power of words. The Bible still says that we will give an account for every idle word. Christ understood that words count, and He used them wisely to fulfill God’s purpose in His life and that was to bring folks to salvation.