The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences (Proverbs 18:21). The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).
In a recent small group (we call it “house church”) meeting, we did an ice breaker where we were asked to call out one of our own faults or weaknesses, and were also encouraged to give an uplifting word to someone else in the room if something came to mind.
The fault/weakness I mentioned about myself was that sometimes I joke around too much, and since I have a pretty sarcastic sense of humor, sometimes people don’t know whether I’m being serious or not. I obviously have a gazillion more weaknesses I could have mentioned (some of ya’ll just said “Amen!”), but that was the first thing that came to mind.
Today I wanted to talk more about the positive, encouraging side of things, and how powerful an uplifting word can be to someone. As the verse in Proverbs says, while a vicious word can be extremely damaging, our positive words can also bring life and healing. As we went around the room sharing, the Spirit’s love and encouragement was definitely present, as I believe God used us to speak truth, life, and healing to each other that day.
Some people had tears of joy as they expressed their words of appreciation and affirmation towards another, and likewise while receiving them. Of course these ended up being mostly the women (ha!), but it really was beautiful to witness and be a part of. And honestly I think if I could cry (crying just isn’t something that happens naturally with me), I probably would have too!
Someone gave me words of encouragement that night that really struck me. It was probably one of the most kind and meaningful things a friend has ever said to me, so it totally caught me off guard. It’s funny because later on when I went to thank them and tell them how much that meant to me, they said, “Wow, really? I would have thought people tell you stuff like that all of the time!” They didn’t even think much of it, while in my head and my heart, it meant so much to me!
I don’t know if they were just trying to downplay it, but what that made me realize is that we, as the family of Christ, probably don’t encourage each other enough. Someone else that night mentioned how sometimes they’re in the middle of writing an encouraging message to someone, but often stop in the middle and never send it. They figure it’s okay if they don’t send it, they probably have heard it already. We may all assume that we each get enough love and affirmation from other sources in our life, but it’s not always true.
That one word of encouragement you give that’s said from the heart and with the love of Christ, can be so extremely impactful. It can affect whether a person pushes on, or whether they give up. It can give them inspiration, or it can break their spirit. It can build them up, or it can tear them down. Ultimately, our value, worth and hope should solely be in the Lord, but God also calls us to live in community to spur one another on, so our words carry much weight for a reason.
Why are the words we say so influential and penetrating from both the giving and receiving end? Because God designed us that way.
For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. Matthew 12: 34b-35
Our words reflect our heart, so we must be sure to use them with the utmost care, as you would when handling a razor-sharp knife. God gave us tongues, not to speak evil, but to speak love and build up the church.
My challenge to each of you today, is to share a loving, godly, Spirit-led word of encouragement with someone. It may be a co-worker, neighbor, classmate, your child, your friend, a stranger, or your spouse. Pray and ask God to specifically show you who needs that word from the Lord, because I assure you there is someone in your sphere of influence who can use it.
I want to especially say to the husbands and wives out there, to not be afraid to lift up and encourage your spouse. For whatever reason, it’s sometimes difficult to do so. But this is the one person on earth who should be regularly encouraged by you, and to whom your words will mean the most.
And let’s not hinder ourselves from edifying each other because we assume a person doesn’t need edification and already gets it elsewhere. The apostle Paul in speaking to the church in Thessalonica urged them to “[Therefore] encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thes. 5:11, and we should do the same.
I hope that I will always remember the uplifting words I heard that night, and that I may recall it as a source of encouragement in the future. I know that person is reading this post right now, so thank you again! 😉 Also, thank you to our house church shepherds for leading the activity, and inviting the Spirit to work in His people that night.
Let’s allow God to use us as His hands, feet, and mouthpiece as we shine His light and share His love with others today. And always remember that our very words can bring life!
[From November 13, 2015]