Introduction: Would you like to discover the “elixir of life?” This
week I was at Disneyland and the theme there is being happy. Are you
looking for a happy life? Who would not? For just a moment I want you
to think back to the most embarrassing, unpleasant times of your
life. Were your words (or the words of someone else) involved in
creating your embarrassment? Chances are that they were. Our study
this week looks at how submitting our speech to God improves the
quality of our life. Let’s jump in!
- Loving Life
- Read Psalms 34:12. Are you part of this “whoever?”
- Read Psalms 34:13 and 1 Peter 3:10. As you can see, Peter
repeats this formula that God first inspired in King
- What do you think it means to “keep your tongue from
- The first important word is “keep.” What does
that suggest? (It suggests that the natural
inclination of our tongue is to speak evil. We
need to resist that inclination.)
- What would be “tongue evil?” (Attacking someone
with your words. Using language to obtain an
unfair advantage over someone else.)
- The second part of this direction is fairly straight-forward: don’t lie.
- Do you make it a practice to be alert to what you say
- Why would evil speaking and lying be the first thing that
David and Peter would mention in connection with securing
a happy life? (Our words can create all sorts of trouble
- Read 1 Peter 3:8-9. Moving back a verse helps us to
better understand Peter’s line of logic. What
connection does Peter see between our words and the
quality of our life? (Peter sees that our words are
an important factor creating harmony in our life.)
- Is harmony always good? When I was a young man I
worked on construction. I saw some bosses who were
bullies and I determined I would never treat anyone
“below me” in the workplace like that. Many years
later, a bully came to work in my organization. He
would mistreat the employees “under” him. Because I
disapproved of this, but was not his boss, I would
say funny, insulting things to him in front of the
abused employees. The abused employees loved it and
would quietly tell me so. Were my actions
appropriate? (No. In 1 Peter 3:9 Peter says do not
repay evil with evil or insult with insult. I should
have spoken with him about the problem or simply have
shown him the better way to treat assistants.
Instead, I was being like him.)
- Read Proverbs 22:11. What does it mean to “love a pure
heart?” (Someone with pure motives.)
- What is “gracious speech?” (Kind, helpful speech.)
- Why would a king be a friend of someone like this?
Don’t powerful people want powerful people around
them? Why would a king care about gracious speech?
(The king knows that this person will be kind to him.
The king desires to have people around him who are
not a danger.)
- Would this advice apply to your work? Can you
replace the word “king” with “your boss?” (Yes.
If you would like to be the friend of your boss,
you need to have pure motives and be kind and
helpful in your speech.)
- Tongue Rescue
- Read Proverbs 12:6. In what way can the words of the
wicked “lie in wait for blood?” (The wicked will say
things that are designed to harm others.)
- Have you seen the speech of the righteous rescue
- If so, how? (If what you have said in the past
has given you a reputation for being honest and
kind to others, people will be inclined to
believe you and disbelieve those who are trying
to harm you with their speech.)
- Matthew Henry’s commentary interprets this text
differently. He suggests that the righteous can
rescue those who are the intended victims of the
wicked by speaking up for them. Is this part of the
way a Christian should speak?
- What kind of obligation do we have to speak up
for those who are being victimized by the
- Intelligence and the Tongue
- Read Ecclesiastes 5:3. How do your cares affect the number
of your dreams? (When we are worried about something, we
often dream about it. The more worries, the more dreams.)
- With what is the speech of a fool compared? (A
- What parallel is being made between cares and words?
(If you have a lot of cares you have a lot of dreams.
If you have a lot of words, you are likely a fool.)
- Have you found this to be true in your life?
(For some reason, foolish people like to hear
themselves speak. They would be better off to
remain silent and have people be uncertain
whether they are fools.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 5:2. Does this refer to our prayers?
Would it include public prayers?
- In our church we have a praise and prayer time. This
is very popular, but it often extends into the time
for the sermon. The time is not so much taken up by
those asking for prayer, as with those who are giving
informal “mini sermons” to the rest of us. What
lesson do we find in this text for those who like to
give unofficial, impromptu sermons?
- Speech in Action
- Read 1 Tim 4:12. When Paul is giving Timothy instructions
about his ministry, we see that he tells him to set an
example in several areas. The first area in which he
should be an example is in his speech. Why do you think
Paul lists speech first? (Studies show that when you first
meet someone, you form an impression of them within the
first few minutes. I have read the time is the first 90
seconds. Most of this impression is based on what we say
and the way in which we say it. If our goal is to
influence people for Christ, we need to be alert to the
impression we are making through our speech.)
- Read Titus 2:7-8. When you teach the Bible, your speech is
obviously important. Although I do not generally write
humorous lines into the lessons, when I teach the lesson I
use humor. Is this wrong? What does Paul mean when he
instructs us to teach with serious and sound speech?
(Instead of seriousness, the Living Bible says show “you
are in dead earnest about it.” I think that makes the
point. God’s word is not a joke. However, humor helps to
maintain the attention of the audience. When you get to
the Biblical point you are making, your students should
understand you are earnest about it.)
- Read James 3:3-5. Why is our tongue compared to a rudder
or a horse’s bit? (A rudder or a bit control the larger
- Is James saying that our tongue also influences us?
(That seems to be precisely what he is saying.)
- Read James 3:6. What is within the power of our speech?
(James teaches that our speech can corrupt us.)
- Why is that? (We are influenced by what we hear.
(Ellen White, in her book The Desire of Ages (pp.
323-324), suggests that when we are tempted, we
sometimes say things that we do not really believe.
However, just expressing something we do not believe
helps to imprint it in our mind. We can come to the
point where we believe something that we did not
originally believe – just because we kept re-enforcing it by our speech.)
- Read Psalms 9:1-2. What blessing comes to us from praising
God as David did? (This is another way in which our speech
helps to change our thoughts. It reinforces our love
- Friend, a Christian’s speech turns out to be very
important to serving God. Will you pray today to make your
speech subject to God’s will?
- Next week: Lord of Our Prayers.