Bible Study Guides – Thought and Speech

May 22, 2011 – May 28, 2011

Key Text

“The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.” Proverbs 10:20.

Study Helps: Christ’s Object Lessons, 335–339; The Review and Herald, June 12, 1888.


“If we are pure in heart, our words will be pure, our actions will be holy.” The Youth’s Instructor, January 9, 1896.


  • What do our habits of speech reveal about our true character? Proverbs 15:28; 18:21.
  • How may we be grieving the Holy Spirit and jeopardizing our faith by careless speech? Matthew 12:36, 37.

Note: “Closely connected with Christ’s warning in regard to the sin against the Holy Spirit is a warning against idle and evil words. The words are an indication of that which is in the heart. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh’ [Luke 6:45 ]. But the words are more than an indication of character; they have power to react on the character. Men are influenced by their own words. Often under a momentary impulse, prompted by Satan, they give utterance to jealousy or evil surmising, expressing that which they do not really believe; but the expression reacts on the thoughts. They are deceived by their words, and come to believe that true which was spoken at Satan’s instigation. Having once expressed an opinion or decision, they are often too proud to retract it, and try to prove themselves in the right, until they come to believe that they are. It is dangerous to utter a word of doubt, dangerous to question and criticize divine light. The habit of careless and irreverent criticism reacts upon the character, in fostering irreverence and unbelief. Many a man indulging this habit has gone on unconscious of danger, until he was ready to criticize and reject the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned’ [Matthew 12:36, 37].” The Desire of Ages, 323.


  • What suffering comes from lies? Proverbs 12:20; 20:17.

Note: “Parents and teachers, be true to God. Let your life be free from deceitful practices. Let no guile be found in your lips. However disagreeable it may be to you at the time, let your ways, your words, and your works show uprightness in the sight of a holy God. Oh, the effect of the first lesson in deceit is terrible! Shall any who claim to be sons and daughters of God give themselves up to deceitful practices and lying?

“Never let your children have the semblance of an excuse for saying, Mother does not tell the truth. Father does not tell the truth. When you are tried in the heavenly courts, shall the record be made against your name, A deceiver? Shall your offspring be perverted by the example of those who ought to guide them in the way of truth? Instead of this, shall not the converting power of God enter the hearts of mothers and fathers? Shall not the Holy Spirit of God be allowed to make its mark upon their children?” Child Guidance, 150.

  • What must we recognize about gossip? Proverbs 10:18; 11:12, 13; 20:3.

Note: “Floating rumors are frequently the destroyers of unity among brethren. There are some who watch with open mind and ears to catch flying scandal. They gather up little incidents which may be trifling in themselves, but which are repeated and exaggerated until a man is made an offender for a word. Their motto seems to be, ‘Report, and we will report it.’ These tale-bearers are doing the devil’s work with surprising fidelity, little knowing how offensive their course is to God. If they would spend half the energy and zeal that is given to this unholy work in examining their own hearts, they would find so much to do to cleanse their souls from impurity that they would have no time or disposition to criticize their brethren, and they would not fall under the power of this temptation. The door of the mind should be closed against ‘they say’ or ‘I have heard.’ Why should we not, instead of allowing jealousy or evil surmising to come into our hearts, go to our brethren, and, after frankly but kindly setting before them the things we have heard detrimental to their character and influence, pray with and for them?” The Review and Herald, June 3, 1884.


  • How do wrong attitudes tend to spread? Proverbs 17:20. What warnings are we given about this? Hebrews 12:14, 15.

Note: “I beseech all who engage in the work of murmuring and complaining because something has been said or done that does not suit them, and that does not, as they think, give them due consideration, to remember that they are carrying on the very work begun in heaven by Satan. They are following in his track, sowing unbelief, discord, and disloyalty; for no one can entertain feelings of disaffection, and keep them to himself. He must tell others that he is not treated as he should be. Thus they are led to murmur and complain. This is the root of bitterness springing up, whereby many are defiled.” The Review and Herald, September 14, 1897.

  • What general guidance does the Bible give concerning speech? Proverbs 10:19; 17:27, 28; Ecclesiastes 5:2.

Note: “Too often, fretful, impatient words are spoken, words which stir the worst passions of the human heart. Such ones need the abiding presence of Christ in the soul. Only in His strength can they keep guard over the words and actions.” Our High Calling, 161.

“If we desire to see the King in His beauty we must here behave worthily. We must outgrow our childishness. When provocation comes let us be silent. There are times when silence is eloquence.” Maranatha, 327.

“The Christian can not always be in the position of prayer, but his thoughts and desires can always be upward. Our self-confidence would vanish, did we talk less and pray more.” The Youth’s Instructor, March 5, 1903.

  • What makes our speech refreshing to others? Proverbs 16:24; 27:2.

Note: “When we can associate together to help one another heavenward, when the conversation is upon divine and heavenly things, then it amounts to something to talk; but when the conversation centers upon self and upon earthly and unimportant matters, silence is golden.” Sons and Daughters of God, 166.


  • What is the real source of our words? Luke 6:45.

Note: “Our minds take the level of the things on which our thoughts dwell, and if we think upon earthly things, we shall fail to take the impress of that which is heavenly. We would be greatly benefited by contemplating the mercy, goodness, and love of God; but we sustain great loss by dwelling upon those things which are earthly and temporal.” The Faith I Live By, 222.

  • What is the key to improving our speech? Proverbs 10:20; 25:11, 12.

Note: “As God works upon the heart by his Holy Spirit, man must co-operate with him. The thoughts must be bound about, restricted, withdrawn from branching out and contemplating things that will only weaken and defile the soul. The thoughts must be pure, the meditations of the heart must be clean, if the words of the mouth are to be words acceptable to Heaven, and helpful to your associates.” The Review and Herald, June 12, 1888.

  • How is moral backbone formed? Proverbs 12:5; 21:5; 20:11.

Note: “Your thoughts must be brought into subjection to the will of God and your feelings under the control of reason and religion. Your imagination was not given you to be allowed to run riot and have its own way without any effort at restraint or discipline. If the thoughts are wrong the feelings will be wrong, and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 310.

“Our thoughts are to be strictly guarded; for one impure thought makes a deep impression on the soul. An evil thought leaves an evil impress on the mind. If the thoughts are pure and holy, the man is better for having cherished them. By them the spiritual pulse is quickened, and the power for doing good is increased. And as one drop of rain prepares the way for another in moistening the earth, so one good thought prepares the way for another.” The Faith I Live By, 222.


  • How do the apostles confirm the idea of tightening the reins of the mind for God? I Peter 1:13–16; II Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8.

Note: “The noble powers of the mind have been given to us by the Lord, that we may employ them in contemplating heavenly things … and yet how often the mind is given to the contemplation of that which is earthly, sensual, and base! We give our time and thought to the trivial and commonplace things of the world, and neglect the great interests that pertain to eternal life. The noble powers of the mind are dwarfed and enfeebled by lack of exercise on themes that are worthy of their concentration. …

“Let every one who desires to be a partaker of the divine nature, appreciate the fact that he must escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. There must be a constant, earnest struggling of the soul against the evil imaginings of the mind. There must be a steadfast resistance of temptation to sin in thought or act.” The Review and Herald, June 12, 1888.

  • How can we tone up our mental powers? Proverbs 16:1–3; Colossians 3:1–3.

Note: “By beholding we are to become changed, and as we meditate upon the perfections of our divine Model, we shall desire to become wholly transformed and renewed in the image of his purity. There will be a hungering and thirsting of soul to be made like Him whom we adore. The more our thoughts are upon Christ, the more we shall speak of him to others, and represent him to the world.” The Review and Herald, June 12, 1888.

Review and Thought Questions

1 Where do words often leave their strongest influence?

2 What is our duty with regard to gossip?

3 How does a root of bitterness grow like a weed?

4 How can we better carry out the words of Romans 14:19?

5 What deep wisdom can we gain from Proverbs 16:1–3?

Copyright © 2002 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.