Be Careful When Eating Your Words

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Image of hurtful words we may say to ourselves.

Today’s Bible reading* has some important warnings about the words we say and how we say them.

Wise words satisfy like a good meal;
the right words bring satisfaction.
The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
Proverbs 18:20–21 (NLT)

Yesterday, I mentioned the use of our words and James 3. Let’s look at more of what Jesus’ half-brother says.

So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.
James 3:5–12 (CSB)


If you’ve ever drunk water from a natural spring, you know how refreshing the water can be. But if the spring has been polluted it can be terribly dangerous. Taking into account what James says above, what Solomon says in Proverbs 4:23, and what Jesus says in Luke 6:45, we need to be very careful to guard our heart and what we put into it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “eating your words”. Today’s proverbs address just that. We need to be very careful what words we say and how we say them, because those words may just come back to bite us.

But we need to watch, not only the words we say to others. We need to be careful what words we say to ourselves and about ourselves to others. Those words can be just as damning to us as they can be to others. How we talk to and about ourselves can have devastating effects on our self-image and can develop into mental illness issues.

Oftentimes, we tell ourselves lies and part of that may result from spiritual warfare. (2 Corinthians 10:3–6) Wield the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to demolish those lying arguments that you tell yourself.

Listen to the Word of truth as you spend time in your Bible. Ask God to reveal Himself and His thoughts about you.

Speak healing words to others … and yourself.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
Proverbs 17
Proverbs 18
Proverbs 19
Proverbs 20

This devotional was originally published on June 2, 2021.

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