Life and Death in the Tongue

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. Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

Grace builds up. When grace grips us we build up.

Saying good:

The Angel of the Lord said, “Mighty man of valor,” to cowardly Gideon. Jesus told defecting Peter, “Feed my lambs.” Graceful words give life not death.

Grace sees what could be. The angel could have confirmed the obvious-present to Gideon. You’re defeated. You’re hiding in a hole. You’re a nobody. That’s what Gideon thought of himself. But words of grace lifted him.

Graceful words teach us who we really are and who we can be. Saying graceful words produces vitality.

Why don’t we:

We don’t say the good to others because we remember their bad. We hold the past against them or we fret they won’t be worthy in the future. In either case, narrow legalists withhold good words. Grace builds up. Law tears down through attack or neglect.

Perfectionism is another performance based reason we withhold life-giving words. We expect more from others. However, the best way to help others become more is by celebrating progress and potential not criticizing past performance. Our past is it’s own billy club. We need words of life not death.


I’ve noticed that constantly saying good things to my wife makes both of us feel better. Funny how that works? The more good you say the better everyone’s life is. Lifting people is better than correcting or tearing down.

I’ve noticed a correlation between problem-focused talk and happiness. The more I talk about problems the more problems I see and the darker life becomes.

Law points out problems. Grace gives life. In the day to day, the tongue has the power of life.

Explore posts in the same categories: Blessing, Grace

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4 Comments on “Life and Death in the Tongue”

  1. Charlie Cooper Says:

    A great book on this subject is “Hung by The Tongue” by Francis Martin

  2. JayNorton Says:

    You say that “Law points out problems” and grace gives life. Isn’t your entire blog devoted to pointing out problems and mistakes of other Christians? How are your rules against legalism not legalism by your definition? You are contradicting yourself. Am I wrong?

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