Ciara Lilly is a Charlotte-area writer. Her faith-based column, Fishers of Men, is published here each Monday. Opinions expressed are solely her own.

Proverbs 18:21 states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Who would have known that the tongue could be such a powerful instrument? I mean, how many people have been programmed to believe the phrase: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? I know I spent the greater portion of my childhood chanting that. But as we continue on life’s journey, we notice that words do in fact hurt — sometimes more than sticks and stones.

So what makes our tongue so important? The tongue gives us the ability to speak. And our words have the power to activate or deactivate our faith. And as Hebrews 11:6 tells us, without faith it is impossible to please God.

Let’s take Mark 11:22-23 as an example of how our words can positively influence our lives. “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23: “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to the mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” Notice all the “says” in that scripture? More importantly, do you notice the result of combining faith with faith-filled words? You can move mountains! Now, of course, Jesus isn’t expecting us to move the Sierra Mountains, but you can move those circumstances that are like mountains in your life.

Conversely, words used incorrectly can hurt. Proverbs 12:18 states, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” How many times have you been hurt by something someone said? Here’s a better question: how many times have you applied your faith to a situation, but kept speaking negative things about its outcome?

Here’s an example: Say, I am believing God for a new house; I’ve followed all the faith guidelines, but I’m saying things like, “My lease is almost up, I may have to renew it” or “This is really stupid, I’ll never get a house” or “What was I thinking? I cannot afford a house!” I’ve deactivated my faith with my words! None of those statements indicate that I truly believe that I will receive a house.

I recently read that the tongue is one of the most exercised muscles in our bodies — and I believe it! But the tongue is also a major component of our spiritual journey. Here are some “tongue” scriptures to help you maintain faith-filled words.

1. Psalm 34:13

2. Proverbs 21:23

3. James 3:2-10

4. 1 Peter 3:10

5. Matthew 12:33-37

6. Psalm 141:3

7. Psalm 52:2

It’s a process trying to tame your tongue; it will not happen overnight, but practice makes perfect. Start by identifying the area you speak most negatively about then commit to speaking positively about that area for a day, then a week … Before you know it, everything you say will be faith-filled and rooted in love.

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