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!

  1. Loving Life

    1. Read Psalms 34:12. Are you part of this “whoever?”

    2. Read Psalms 34:13 and 1 Peter 3:10. As you can see, Peter
      repeats this formula that God first inspired in King

      1. What do you think it means to “keep your tongue from

        1. 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.)

        2. What would be “tongue evil?” (Attacking someone
          with your words. Using language to obtain an
          unfair advantage over someone else.)

      2. The second part of this direction is fairly straight-forward: don’t lie.

      3. Do you make it a practice to be alert to what you say
        about others?

    3. 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
      for us.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

    4. Read Proverbs 22:11. What does it mean to “love a pure
      heart?” (Someone with pure motives.)

      1. What is “gracious speech?” (Kind, helpful speech.)

      2. 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.)

        1. 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.)

  2. Tongue Rescue

    1. 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.)

      1. Have you seen the speech of the righteous rescue

        1. 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.)

      2. 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?

        1. What kind of obligation do we have to speak up
          for those who are being victimized by the

  3. Intelligence and the Tongue

    1. 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.)

      1. With what is the speech of a fool compared? (A

      2. 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.)

        1. 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.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 5:2. Does this refer to our prayers?
      Would it include public prayers?

      1. 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?

  4. Speech in Action

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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

      1. Is James saying that our tongue also influences us?
        (That seems to be precisely what he is saying.)

    4. Read James 3:6. What is within the power of our speech?
      (James teaches that our speech can corrupt us.)

      1. 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.)

    5. 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
      towards God.)

    6. 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?

  1. Next week: Lord of Our Prayers.