The Power of Speech

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that there is something more dangerous than taking in something bad, and that is speaking out something that is bad. 

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The year was 1997. I’d just finished my homework and downed a peanut butter sandwich made with Eggo waffles, and the burning desire for milk kicked in. I hopped over the back of my sofa at the commercial break of “Saved by the Bell,” flung open the fridge and began gulping down cold milk straight out of the carton. I was satisfied for about 0.3 seconds until I realized…this milk had turned, this milk was not my friend. It wasn’t a day or two old, it was over a week old. Needless to say, I puked so hard I dislodged gum that had been in my small intestine since the second grade, and I learned on that day what Matthew speaks of in Matthew 15:10.

How’s that for a segway? TMI?


“Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that there is something more dangerous than taking in something bad, and that is speaking out something that is bad.

When God hears you speak about your meeting as terrible, your car as crappy, your kids as ungrateful, your husband as lazy, your town as small, your house as cramped…His response is: “If you say so. You will feel how you speak and find what you seek.”

Likewise, there is power in speaking out something that is good.

At creation, God spoke the world to life. At the incarnation, God spoke Jesus into our world. That tells you something about the weight of words.  And it should humble you to know that God has given you the same power of speech. That is part of the terrible privilege of being made in His image. You have great power in your speech that can unleash a forceful fury that can create, tear down, build, heal, or hurt.

One of my favorite stories in Scripture shows what I am trying to communicate. It is from Matthew 8, when a centurion came to Jesus for help because his servant was seriously ill. In response to this man’s plea, Jesus immediately agrees to come to the man’s home and treat the boy. This is where it gets really interesting. The centurion protests that there is no need for Jesus to enter his home.

For one, it would be inconvenient for Jesus to have to travel, and secondly, if He entered the house of a Gentile He would be ceremonially defiled and have to go through a cleansing ritual before His daily life could continue. Translation: He would get Gentile cooties. He didn’t want Jesus to be put out while doing him a favor. When Jesus heard this He marveled, because the centurion’s faith was noteworthy. Jesus then turned and spoke 3 incredible words of wisdom that were original to Him long before they were sung by Paul McCartney and John Lennon: “LET IT BE….”


“as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”

This is actually where we get our word AMEN. Amen translated directly into our language means “let it be.” When we say amen we are saying, “May what I have prayed come to pass.” But in light of the response of what happened in this interaction between the centurion and Jesus, our goal should be to pray such a gutsy prayer that with raised eyebrows God would say to you: Amen, let it be.

It is up to you whether the self-fulfilling prophecies you articulate become a delight or a dungeon. God’s response to the way you speak is: If you say so.


Questions to ask yourself:

How do I speak to myself and others? In what way is my speech positive? In what ways do I have a hard time controlling my tongue?

Think of an area of your life you tend to complain about or speak negatively of. Challenge yourself this week, every time you are tempted to complain, to find a way to thank God instead.



Written by Chad Adams


Featured Image by Kelsey Curtis

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