Encouraging Words

What we say affects our own lives and the lives of others far more than most of us realize. Our words are powerful! How powerful? “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) That’s powerful! And yet that’s exactly how impacting our words are.

The choice as to how we personally will use words is ours. We can either choose for them to be life-giving, encouraging and uplifting, or we can choose to destroy, tear down and belittle others with our words. It’s entirely up to us.

What we say and how we say it is a big deal to God. This is a topic that is addressed time and again in Scripture.

And one reason for this, I believe, is because it reveals so much about us – so much that, if we’ll be observant, our words can and will serve as a gauge of sorts for us…a gauge monitoring the true condition of our hearts that will allow us to examine ourselves on a regular basis – to see if we truly are living our faith. Our words tell the tale, like few other things, as to where we are spiritually. What we say and how we say it can help us measure how truly surrendered we are to the Christ who indwells us.

James 3:2 says, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle (his) whole body.”

While few of us have yet attained to that level of maturity – all of us still should be showing steady progress towards that worthy goal as we grow in the Lord. The earnest prayer of the Psalmist should be ours as well– “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

As David indicated in this Psalm, there is a real connection between the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts. In Matthew 12, Jesus made reference to this connection when He rebuked the Pharisees, saying, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” He went on to say, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that 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.” Jesus made it clear that what we say and how we say it WILL be taken into account at the Judgment. Why? Because our words truly do give an accurate reading of the condition of our hearts.

Proverbs 18:4 tells us, “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters…” A person’s words don’t flow from a spigot just barely inside his mouth. They come from a much deeper source. They come from the heart! Thus, there’s only one way to really get our words right – and that’s by getting our hearts, the source of our words, right.

I believe that’s one reason why the Lord chose tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Jesus promised, “He that believeth on me as the scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; but this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive….” (John 7:338-39) When we receive the Holy Ghost, a river of fresh, pure, living water begins to flow from deep within us. And then, “Out of the abundance of our hearts, the mouth speaketh. “ This happened for the very first time in Acts 2:4 – “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

So, again – to get our words right, we just need to make sure that we keep the source of our words right. Proverbs 15:26 declares, “the words of the pure are pleasant words.” A pure heart will result in pure, pleasant words. As Jesus said, “Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good too.” When we truly get our hearts right, it will show in our words. It will show in what we say and how we say it. Our words then will lift others up and not tear them down. I’m not dealing with much needed, straightforward preaching here. We need to hear the Truth preached in love – fervently preached, earnestly preached! What I’m talking about has to do with carnal words – purposely hurtful words – backbiting words – gossiping words!

I trust that all of us have come to understand by this point in our lives that the rhyme we learned as children – “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…” is simply not true. God is not the only one who’s Word, the Sword of the Spirit, can be used as a weapon. But, unfortunately, the swords that proceed out of our mouths are not always allied with the Lord and His good cause. Often times they are in alliance with the enemy’s forces.

Proverbs 12:8 says, “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword.” There are some people who purposely use their words to cut and wound and hurt others. In Psalm 64:3, David spoke of those who “bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.” The weapons such people purposely use to wound others are their angry, bitter words.

And, just as God’s word penetrates deeply, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit” – in a similar way OUR own words also penetrate deeply, but unfortunately, not always in a good and cleansing way as does God’s Word – but rather in deeply harmful ways.

Proverbs 18:8 explains that, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” Words penetrate deeply. Words can deeply wound. They can become infected and fester and fill our hearts with the poison of bitterness, and deep anger and the desire for vengeance.

Words are powerful! I’ve spent many sleepless nights over words people have said. No doubt, you have too. And I’m sure that words I have spoken have caused others to have sleepless nights as well. Yes, our words are powerful. Words can hurt! Words can destroy!

But, here’s the good news! Not only are ugly, inappropriate, angry and bitter words powerful – but right words, good words, and encouraging words are powerful as well. In the midst of his severe test and trial, Job proclaimed this great truth – “How forcible are right words!” (Job 6:25)

I’m glad to know it’s not just cutting words and hurtful words that penetrate deeply. Right words do so as well! Kind and encouraging words – they also penetrate deeply – not cutting and wounding as they are absorbed into our innermost beings – but rather, healing and comforting and encouraging! Not tearing down – but building up!

Words are powerful! Proverbs 25:11 says that, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Here God chose to use two of the most valuable and precious metals to convey to us the tremendous worth and value of right words – saying that they are like apples made of gold in beautiful settings of silver. That sounds expensive to me. That sounds like something of great value. And yet what the writer is referring to is just words – right words – “words fitly spoken.”

Words are powerful! It’s extremely important that all of us who are called to serve people speak encouraging and uplifting words into their lives, words that will penetrate deeply, heartening words that hopefully they’ll never forget.

Let’s pray it again! “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International. He is Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.

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