Gleanings from the Proverbs – Control Your Tongue, and You Control Your Life

Proverbs 10:11:  The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Your tongue can either lead to your destruction, or your eternal life. We must control our tongues, speaking words that tend to life, rather than be ensnared by our words. Your mouth is an opening to your heart. It is a passageway that lets out what is in your heart. A righteous man has a good and noble heart, and his mouth is a well of life to those around him. He comforts, encourages, and instructs them. A wicked man has an evil heart, and his mouth is covered with violence. He hurts and destroys those around him.

You can know the heart of a man by his speech (Pr 10:20). While many like to say, “You do not know my heart,” it is easy to know their hearts by the kind of words that come from their lips. Gentle, gracious, helpful, kind, and modest speech proves a virtuous heart. But caustic, critical, cruel, harsh, negative, and slanderous words prove a depraved heart.

The Lord Jesus Christ explained this proverb. He said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matt 12:34-35).

This proverb is an observation by Solomon. You can measure a person’s character by their speech. A good man knows what words are acceptable, and he says them at the right time (Pr 10:32; 15:23; 25:11). It makes you want to kiss his lips (Pr 24:26)! He speaks with a good purpose – to comfort, heal, encourage, teach, or warn (Pr 13:14; 15:7). He adds to the peace, pleasure, and prosperity of those around him (Pr 12:18; 15:26; 16:24; 18:4).

A wicked man cannot rule his mouth, so it spews forth the volcanic evil of his heart. He talks far more than he should (Pr 15:2,28; Eccl 10:12-14). The harsh, hateful, and sarcastic sword of his mouth leaves those around him bleeding (Pr 12:18; Ps 52:2). He feels no pang of conscience or remorse for ruining the reputations of others by backbiting, slandering, talebearing, or whispering (Pr 26:20-28). He is a false witness and liar (Pr 14:5; 18:21; 25:18).

The proverb has two metaphors. How is the mouth of a righteous man a well of life? It is a place where refreshing speech can satisfy your longings and invigorate your soul! How does violence cover the mouth of the wicked? There are no refreshing waters in his mouth, for his mouth is only violent.

What can we do with this lesson? Do others crave your words and conversation like a thirsty man craves a well? Does your speech bless and enhance their lives? Or do others dread being around you, because your words are critical, negative, and destructive? If you have unsavoury speech, confess it to God, and beg for a new heart!

What you think about your speech is entirely irrelevant! Your heart is the most deceitful thing on this planet (Jer 17:9-10). You may safely measure your speech by the degree to which others want to be in your presence and listen to your words. If you are short on friends, it is because your mouth is too violent in some respect. Purify your speech!

How can you improve your speech? If you talk a lot, then talk less (Pr 17:27-28; Jas 1:19)! Make sure your speech is always gracious (Pr 22:11; Eccl 10:12; Col 4:6)! Make sure it is always helpful (Pr 10:31; 31:26; Eph 4:29)! Learn the words of truth to give certain answers to those asking (Pr 22:17-21; I Pet 3:15)! And bless and praise the Lord (Ps 34:1-3)!

Christians and teachers! Of all men, your mouth must be a deep well of life, for you bring the good news of the gospel of peace! You have the most comforting, encouraging, and healthful words in the universe! But make sure you preach/teach His word, rather than the fables and entertainment most seek today (I Cor 2:1-5; I Thess 2:13; II Tim 3:14-17; 4:1-4)

What kind of a mouth did the Lord Jesus Christ have? It was a deep, deep well with water that satisfied the soul forever (John 4:13-14; 6:63,68)! His words were so gracious that it stunned a synagogue into silence (Ps 45:2; Luke 4:20-22)! When He spoke of the things of Scripture, the hearts of those hearing Him burned with pleasure (Luke 24:32)! Glory to God!

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