Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21
Death and Life? Really? That is pretty serious! But where do you see Jesus teaching on this??
Well, throughout the scripture we see plenty of scripture with instruction regarding our tongue, our words. I want to first take a look at the following two:
Matthew 15:11– What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
(It’s not so much about the fleshy appetites we have, but the appetite of the soul, and what we feed it; because out of the heart the mouth speaks: and the soul is our Mind-Will-Emotions)
James 3:3-9– When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
…..and then a there are a ton of Proverbs about managing what we say….. or should I say, managing what we feed our soul……
Particularly I want to look at James 3:3-9, which is very plain that the context is about the power of the tongue, but then go a couple of verses down to James 3:12, and notice the reference to the fig tree.
There is so much symbolism throughout scripture regarding figs! We have repeatedly seen it represent blessing, plenty, nutrition, etc. And i the Old Testament we see where God would bring a curse that would wipe out these very crops. (Joel, Habbakuk, Haggai) it is as though the fig tree is used to signify the health of the nation, the people. It was taken away as punishment, and flourishing in times of restoration.
But, the most poignant story to me in relation to this fig tree revelation is that of when Jesus cursed the fig tree and it died. Have you ever wondered WHY Jesus did this? It is just a few sentences;
Mark 11:12-14 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
….and then moves right into the story of the money changers in the temple;
Mark 11:15-17 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
and then back to the fig tree, and the following parable/lesson;
Mark 11:20-24 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
This parable was a living example to the disciples of the power in which we wield with our tongue, and the fig tree symbolized the nation, the people. How many times do we go to a brother or sister in Christ, or someone we are leading, and request something from them (remember Jesus was hungry), but they cannot give us what we want, so we get disappointed and disgruntled, because OUR need isn’t getting met? In this parable what Jesus wanted from this tree wasn’t even its season to produce! We may be seeing life in someone, the fig tree was pushing out leaves, but the sign of life doesn’t mean the season to produce! But all too often, within the body of Christ and particularly by leaders with high expectations, we are allowing the appetites of our soul to spew out and curse these people. And then what happens? We kill them. We kill their passion. We kill their desire to produce. We kill their desire to even grow into their season.
After Jesus curses the fig tree he confronts the evil-doers in the temple. He DOES use words against them; He uses scripture against these ‘evil-doers’. These money changers were examples of those within the body that are like wolves in sheep’s clothing, and the scripture was used as a source of correction and conviction, not cursing.
And then the parable tied to this story refers back to the power of the tongue; but Jesus is showing the better usage of it. The higher usage is to partner the power of your words with prayer and faith in order to move the mountains in your life, to remove the obstacles the enemy has placed before you as he tries to get you off-course or block your path. THIS is when you wield that sword and its creative power.
I hope this revelation resonates with you. I would love to hear your thoughts!