The Fruit of The Lips: Love

FOTL 3-2


As we began last week, we focused on the theme of words being the fruit of the heart, proving the tree to be truly good or the tree to be rotten. For, as Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”



In keeping with this theme of fruit of the lips, we will be examining how the Bible instructs us to speak in bearing with each of the nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I don’t want to force an unnecessary structure on the fruits of The Spirit, reducing them down to speech only. But as a guide to bearing God’s glory, I want to use them as a lens to see how the scriptures instruct us to glorify God through our words.

Today, we will be looking at how to glorify God by speaking in Love.

In truth, all of the fruits of the Spirit are an expression of love, so we could speak about patience or goodness or faithfulness here as a form of speaking in love, but we will try to narrow our perspective this week about how to speak in love without overlapping into other fruits.


Eat Your Words

From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:20–21, ESV)

When we use the phrase “eat one’s words”, we usually mean it in the sense of retracting a previous statement. But here in this verse, to “eat one’s words” is to experience the effects they have on your life–to reap what you sow. A man should be satisfied by the fruits of his mouth. As he sows the seeds of loving speech, he should be delighted with the garden that grows around in the yield of his lips. But conversely, what can sometimes be used as a medicine can also be used as a poison. If a man sows speech of hatred, or criticism, or complaint, or gossip, or any of the other loveless seeds, he is able to kill what would have been able to grow. But as 1 Corinthians 8:1 has taught us, love builds up.


Love Heals

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24, ESV)

Words that that are freighted with grace invigorate the soul and can even rouse the body. Words can touch the heart and turn a scowl into a kiss. Words can pierce a man, turning clenched fists into claps of praise, changing both the heart and the hands. Gracious words spoken in love are not only the gas that can start the engine, but the clutch which puts the car in gear. In short, grace motivates. For Christians, we far too often forget our own story, that it was God’s kindness that lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

A home that is filled with the air of law will bring suffocation, the members never being able to relax or measure up to the criticism and standards that are placed on performance. But the home that is filled with the the air of grace is a place where the breathing is easy–each member can rest because they know they are loved despite their performance. We make evident our love through words of grace: praise and encouragement, forgiveness, laughter, taking an interest, giving a loving rebuke, being thoughtful and remembering. Generally, you live as one giving out a signal that says, “I love you; you are not in my way.”



“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16, ESV)

Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.” (Proverbs 24:28, ESV)

One way to love our neighbor as ourselves is to not lie to them or about them. Love rejoices at the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). It will not sit in the witness stand and accuse a man that it knows to be innocent, nor will it take up a friendship with the serpent, trading in the currency of falsehoods for gain.

Not bearing false witness, love refuses to slander. Even if someone’s actions and character have been sinful, love demands that we not get carried away into sin of our own. We can sometimes bear false witness subtly, painting someone falsely, as being worse than they really are, exaggerating their flaws. This can feel easily justified because of their genuine misbehavior. But love is sober-minded, telling the truth, not drunk on envy or frustration, even towards our enemies.

Love isn’t a cheat. It will not deceive. A lie is always meant to manipulate someone, to color their perspective falsely in order to preserve yourself. It is pride coming through the teeth. But love knows how to bear all things, even at times the rough impact of telling the truth. Love exposes the true self, even if that means our powers to persuade are reduced to nothing.



Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15, ESV)

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25, ESV)

Sometimes we tell a lie to preserve ourselves, and sometimes we tell a lie believing that we are preserving someone else. With our neighbors, we can often feel the tension of what telling them the truth might do. They will be angry, so we lie. They will be ashamed, so we lie. They will slander us, so we lie. They will leave the church, so we lie. This lie can sometimes come in the form of explicit words of comfort when there should be warning, like when the wicked and compromised priests in Jeremiah’s time cried out “peace, peace, when there was no peace” (Jer. 6:14). We, too, can “heal the wound lightly” by assuring others with lies or even half-truths while the real danger of things in their lives works on them like an ignored infection. Other times, we tell a lie by saying nothing at all, what we might call “living a lie”. We see the falsehood, but we consider telling the truth to be too costly. We think that we have not sinned because we have simply “stayed out of it”, but cowardice, fear of man, and disbelief in the power and goodness of the truth have convinced us that the lie is simply better. But if love rejoices with the truth, then hate rejoices in the lie. And so it seems that we are always loving or hating something. We cannot serve two masters; we will love one and hate the other. Either we will love the truth and the God of truth by speaking the truth in love, or we will love ourselves and love our comfort while, in truth, hating our neighbors by telling them lies or allowing them to live in lies.


So we are to be confident in speaking the truth, but it must be wielded as a surgeon’s knife for healing and not a butcher’s knife for destroying. Both knives cut, just as the truth always cuts. But we must speak with the sacrificial nature of love as we speak the truth, seeking the good of another over the good of the self, for love seeks not its own (1 Cor. 13:5).