A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
When the tongue is guided by the Spirit of God and by the words of Holy Scripture it may impart truth and express and elicit thoughts which may be salutary to those who come under their influence. Then it is as if a man, in hearing the words spoken, did eat the fruit of the tree of life in God's primitive and undesolated garden.
I. WHAT TOPICS OF DISCOURSE WILL MAKE OUR TONGUE A TREE OF LIFE?
1. It is no tree of life when it lies. God is a God of truth, and if the tongue speaks falsely it is an instrument of unrighteousness.
2. It is no tree of life when it defames and utters scandal, whether this proceed from the thought of your own mind or whether it be taken from a neighbour.
3. It is no tree of life when it blasphemes. There are irreverent speeches respecting God which are a shame and dishonour for a man to utter, and which are painful and injurious to the auditors.
4. It is no tree of life when it propagates error; when it teaches and preaches false doctrine.
5. It is no tree of life when the words are vicious or unholy. If conversation is false, defamatory, foolish, irreverent, you grieve the Holy Spirit of God. There are four great regions of truth in which the tongue may do its duty to man and glorify God; so that, according to the metaphor of the text, the tree may open its ample branches, presenting fruit so luscious and refreshing that all who pass by may eat and regale themselves.
(1) It has liberty when it speaks of the works of God in creation.
(2) The second great region is the providence of God, or the government of God, in His watchfulness over the affairs of men.
(3) Then there is the Word of God. There is not a verse or sentence from the beginning to the end which may not be the subject of investigation and of discourse.
(4) A tongue may be wholesome when we speak of things that are especially suitable to the circumstances of the people whom we are addressing, such as those who need comfort and those who are exposed to temptation. It may be added that the tongue is a tree of life when it speaks of the world before us and of the life to come.
II. THE TIMES AND SEASONS OF THE FRUITFULNESS OF THE TONGUE AS A TREE OF LIFE.
1. In the sanctuary the tongue of a righteous minister is a tree of life.
2. Our tongue may be a tree of life in our families, at our morning and evening repast, and daily, as we meet at table.
3. When we teach the young.
4. In our ordinary intercourse with one another. Every sentiment we advance is a seed that will go elsewhere.
5. And at the bedside of the sick and dying. The tongue is a small member, but it boasteth great things. It may be the instrument of great evil or of amazing good. The tongue of man is the pivot on which the whole system of human society moves. Then ask for wisdom, that the tongue may utter knowledge. Ask for a renewed mind, that there may be sanctified speech.
Parallel VersesKJV: A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.