What does the Bible say about the tongue?
The Bible says a lot about the way we should and shouldn’t speak. But why does the Bible put such an emphasis on the way we speak? Let’s find out below.
Christian quotes about the tongue
“The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.” “A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever.”
“Don’t mix bad words with your bad mood. You will have many opportunities to change a mood, but you will never get the opportunity to replace the words you spoke.”
“God has given us two ears, but one tongue, to show that we should be swift to hear, but slow to speak. God has set a double fence before the tongue, the teeth and the lips, to teach us to be wary that we offend not with our tongue.” Thomas Watson
“The tongue is the only tool that gets sharper with use.”
“Remember that the tongue speaks only what is in the heart.” Theodore Epp
“A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.” Benjamin Franklin
“In the first days the Holy Spirit fell upon the believers, and they spoke in tongues that they hadn’t learned, as the Spirit gave them to speak. These signs were appropriate for the time. For it was necessary that the Holy Spirit be signified thus in all tongues, because the gospel of God was going to traverse all tongues throughout the earth. That was the sign that was given, and it passed.” Augustine
“It’s better to bite your tongue than to eat your words.” Frank Sonnenberg
“Nothing is more like a wise man than a fool who holds his tongue.” Francis de Sales
“The tongue is you in a unique way. It is the tattletale on the heart and discloses the real person. Not only that, but misuse of the tongue is perhaps the easiest way to sin. There are some sins that an individual may not be able to commit simply because he does not have the opportunity. But there are no limits to what one can say, no built-in restraints or boundaries. In Scripture, the tongue is variously described as wicked, blasphemous, foolish, boasting, complaining, cursing, contentious, sensual and vile. And that list is not exhaustive. No wonder God put the tongue in a cage behind the teeth, walled in by the mouth! ” John MacArthur
“There is nothing that so much gratifies an ill tongue as when it finds an angry heart.” Thomas Fuller
“The tongue has no bones but is strong enough to break a heart. so be careful with your words.”
“The Christian should learn two things about his tongue, how to hold it and how to use it.”
Sins of the tongue in the Bible
One of the ways that the Bible talks about the tongue, or the words that we speak, is by warning us about the sins of the tongue. Our words can injure others. Our tongue is one of our most dangerous weapons. What is worse, our words can reveal the sinful nature of our heart. The way we speak reveals our character.
Two of the Ten Commandments speak specifically about sins committed with the tongue: using the Lords name in vain, and bearing false witness against someone else (Exodus 20:7, 16.) Also, Jesus Himself warned us about the dangers of using our tongue rashly. Other sins of the tongue include boasting, licentious language, being critical, double-tongued, explosive uncontrolled angry words, hateful speech, or purposefully using obscure words to hide on a significant issue.
1) Proverbs 25:18 “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.”
2) Psalm 34:13 “Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.”
3) Proverbs 26:20 “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.”
4) Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush to evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
5) Matthew 5:22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “you fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire.”
6) Proverbs 19:5 “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.”
The power of the tongue Bible verses
If we use our words in a sinful manner, they can injure others and leave scars that can cripple a person for their entire life. Other words can help people feel better and even bring healing. The very words of a person can change the course of entire nations. There is immense power in something so simple and small as our tongue. We are commanded to wield this power wisely. God desires for us to use our tongue to bring Him glory, to edify others, and to proclaim the Gospel to everyone.
7) Proverbs 21:23 “Whoever watches his mouth and tongue keeps himself from trouble.”
8) James 3:3-6 “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.”
9) Proverbs 11:9 “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.”
10) Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”
11) Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
12) Proverbs 18:20-21 “From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
13) Proverbs 12:13-14 “Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk, and so the innocent escape trouble. From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.”
Heart and mouth connection in words
The Bible teaches that there is a direct connection between our heart and our mouth. When the Bible talks about our heart it is describing the inward most part of that person. Our heart is our center. In eastern cultures it describes the part of us where our thoughts originate and where our character is developed. Whatever is in our heart will come out in the way we speak. If we are harboring sin and wickedness – it will show up in the way that we speak to one another.
14) Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an account for it in the day of judgement.”
15) Matthew 15:18 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.”
16) James 1:26 “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”
17) 1 Peter 3:10 “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.”
18) Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
19) Proverbs 15:4 “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
20) Matthew 12:37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
How to tame the tongue according to the Bible?
The tongue can only be tamed by the power of God. We cannot purposefully choose to glorify God in our own strength. Nor can we purposefully chose to honor God with our words by using enough willpower. Taming the tongue only comes from the Lord. Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit we learn to control our tongue by choosing not to talk with “unwholesome” words. Crass language, ugly humor, and cuss words are not for the believer to use. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can learn to bridle our tongue, and to guard the words we use and when we use them. We also grow in sanctification this way by choosing to speak words that edify instead of words that reflect anger and sin.
21) James 3:8 “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
22) Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
23) Proverbs 13:3 “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life, he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
24) Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
25) Colossians 3:8 “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
26) Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”
A gentle tongue
Using gracious and gentle words does not weaken the power of the tongue. It is a tender and kind disposition. It is not the same thing as weakness or lack of resolve. In fact, it helps us to grow in meekness. There is a great amount of strength in speaking with gentle words when there is ample opportunity to speak with sinful words.
27) Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
28) Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
29) Proverbs 18:4 “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling- brook.”
30) Proverbs 18:20 “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
Growing in gentleness of tongue is one of the most difficult areas to mature in. It is all too easy to express our frustration or anger in a way that is sinful. The world teaches us that if we are angry or frustrated to show just how greatly we are angered with the type of words we use and with the volume and harshness spoken. But this is the opposite of how God teaches us to use our words. May we strive to please God in all we do, in all we think, and in all we say.