The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
The words spoken by the righteous give life, as a river gives life to the land it flows through. For the words that come out of a person who is Christ-like are words of truth, love, and grace. The words spoken are true, not false; frank, not deceptive; faithful to God’s Word, not adding or twisting his meaning. The words are loving, not violent; intended to build up, not tear down or win a score. The words are gracious, spoken with kindness and generosity. But the words of the wicked harm and destroy life. They break the spirits of others; they are deceptive; they are harsh; they are spoken by a person desiring his own advantage over others.
Whatever the words are, they neither make the speaker righteous nor wicked. Jesus said as much in Mark 7:14ff and in Matthew 7:15ff. What comes out of the heart defiles and reveals a person. This is also the perspective of Proverbs. Out of a righteous heart life giving words will come; out of a wicked heart, harmful words will come. To our shame and confusion, we speak both kinds of words. As James notes in 3:10, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.” Be reminded that though Christ has saved us and imputed his righteousness to us, we nevertheless have the old sinful nature clinging to us. The work of sanctification will always be necessary in us.
All the more, then, pray for words that are a fountain of life to come out of us. Think of it this way: we have the fountain of life in us – the life-giving Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the plumbing through which the water passes through and out of us is still tainted with sin-germs. Diligent filtering still needs to take place to prevent harmful words from coming out. The best filtering monitoring device is still conscious, consistent, honest prayer.
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: 2 ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the River Jordan into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates – all the Hittite country – to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 ‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’
10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 ‘Go through the camp and tell the people, “Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.”’
12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 ‘Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, “The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.” 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan towards the sunrise.’
16 Then they answered Joshua, ‘Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!’