ZMI Family Ministries International > Articles by: Beverly Lussi

Part 5, Name That Tongue – Healing or Hurting?

“A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life, but willful contrariness in it breaks down the spirit.”
Proverbs 15:4 AMP 

I watched a movie recently called Parental Guidance starring Billy Crystal (as Artie) and Bette Midler (as Diane). As grandparents, they had pretty much failed due to misunderstandings between them and their only child.  Artie had also lost his dream job as a baseball announcer and was eagerly hoping for an audition with another team. In the meantime, Artie and Diane had an opportunity to watch their three grandkids for a week and were eager to redeem themselves in the sight of the family.

One of my favorite scenes is an honest discourse between Diane and Artie. Everything has gone wrong, and they seemingly have failed at being responsible grandparents in the eyes of their daughter. Here is the dialogue.

Diane:  I followed you for 35 years, Artie. Wherever you needed to be, that’s where I was. No complaints. Well, some. But this week … this week was supposed to be about us and our grandchildren. Not you. Not you. Did you have to go to that audition?

Artie:  It’s not one of my better moments.

Diane expressed her true feelings and spoke words of hard truth. However, how she said them made all the difference. She didn’t rant and rave over the fact that she was right. Nor did she become a drama queen and make him feel bad with her tears. Artie realized his selfishness and responded appropriately, admitting his wrong.

Our words, according to Proverbs, can bring healing or harm depending on what and how we say them. God dealt with me years ago about my tainted tongue. He used the following verse to convict my heart of the damage I was doing, especially toward my loved ones.

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18, NASB


Ouch! That’s a hard one, but one I revisit often to keep my lips under control. I don’t want my speech to cut and wound due to my uncaring thoughtlessness. Instead, I long for God to bring life and health to others through my communication.


It’s never too late for a tongue check-up. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you speak with soothing sweetness and control. Seek to be pleasant and gentle in all you say. It takes practice, but it’s so worth it.         [Digging deeper – Psalm 57:4; Prov. 15:26b; 16:21, 23-24, 31:26]

Taming the tongue,

Beverly <><



Photo Credit: Image courtesy of worradmu at

Part 4, Zip Those Lips!

“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
Proverbs 10:19 NLT

Ever had one of those moments in life when a loved one or girlfriend sought your advice, then turned around and did exactly what you had warned against? To make matters worse, you responded with the never-ending tirade of questions and the numerous reasons why she should have listened to you. The more you spoke, the worse it got. She was feeling great remorse, but you just kept crushing her spirit into the ground. I must confess; I have been guilty of such talk.

Chances are I’m not alone. After all, we women need to speak on average about 20,000 words a day, you know. However, that doesn’t excuse what Proverbs calls a sin producer – too much talk! Like today’s verse, sometimes we need to zip our lips.

A similar temptation we often face is what I’ll call ‘whispering words’. You know, those juicy bits of gossip someone shares and before you know it, you’re doing  the same thing in the name of a prayer request. We would be wise to heed the warning

in Proverbs 26:22 NASB:


“The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts  of the body.”


Just like a delicious piece of chocolate pecan toffee or a delectable bite of cheesecake that we savor and swallow, so are our whispering words. They go deep into the heart of the hearer. Before we damage another person’s reputation, we would be wise to hold our tongues.

Oftentimes, we mean well in our verbosity. We so want to help, but instead we may be guilty of quenching the work of the Holy Spirit. Oswald Chambers shares some wise counsel in My Utmost for His Highest – Aug. 1st:

          Are we playing the spiritual amateur providence in other lives? Are we so noisy in our   instruction of others that God cannot get anywhere near them? We have to keep our mouths   shut and our spirits alert.

The next time you find yourself lending a listening ear for a troubled soul, ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment. He will give you the words if you need to speak; He will also help you hold your tongue if you need to keep quiet. Beloved sisters, let’s be found sensible as we watch what we say.

[Digging deeper – Prov. 13:3, 17:27-28, 21:23, 26:20; Eccl. 3:7b]

Zipping the lips,

Beverly <><

Part 3, Good Mouth, Bad Mouth

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
Proverbs 10:11 NASB

Because there are over one hundred verses relating to the mouth, lips, tongue, and speech found in Proverbs, it’s impossible to cover the wealth of information in five short doses. So, hang with me as I attempt to whet your appetite to do further study on your own. With that in mind, I want to zoom in on chapter 10 of Proverbs and compare the mouth of the righteous to that of the wicked and foolish person.

We read in Matthew 15:18 that the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart. If in my very being I focus on God, then according to verses in Proverbs 10, my upright speech is like a fountain of life (vs. 11). It flows with wisdom (vs. 13, 31), is like choice silver (vs. 20), feeds many (vs. 21), and brings forth what is acceptable (vs. 32).

On the flip side, a heart focused on self and the world is more likely to let unkind, hurtful, and shameful words spew forth. The foolish, wicked mouth hides violence (vs. 6, 11), brings ruin (vs. 14), will be cut out (vs. 31), and is perverted (vs. 32). Let’s avoid these pitfalls at all costs by never letting sin go unchecked in our lives. Thank goodness, we serve a merciful God who forgives us when we confess our sins. Unlike having our mouths simply washed out with soap, His cleansing goes all the way to the heart.

One last thought and I close. Have you ever been burned by fire? I remember checking the broiler of a gas stove and having a blast of flames hit me in the face. It about scared me to death! A quick check revealed singed hair around my temples, as well as my eyebrows and eyelashes; the face was a little pink and tender. My point is this: fire can hurt, destroy, wound, and produce fear.

“A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like scorching fire.” Proverbs 16:27 NASB

How careful we should be to avoid letting our words become a devastating inferno. Instead, let’s strive daily with God’s help to speak with a pure heart, bringing grace, life, healing, and peace to those around us.

“All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; There is nothing crooked or perverted in      them.” Proverbs 8:8 NASB

[Digging deeper – Psalm 37:30; Prov. 11:9a, 12:6, 15:2, 28; 16:13b, 23; James 3:5-10]

Speaking rightly,

Beverly <><



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