“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as in fact you are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).
Friend to Friend
We are shaped by words from those who love us or refuse to love us. And we are shaped by the words of those who don’t even know our names. It is the heart cry of all mankind to be loved and accepted, and sometimes a simple word of encouragement can make all the difference.
William Barclay one said, “One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise, of thanks, of appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man (or woman) who speaks such a word.”
What exactly is encouragement? Webster defines it as “to give courage or confidence to; to raise the hopes of; to help on by sympathetic advice and interests; to advise and make it easy for (someone to do something) to promote or stimulate; to strengthen.” In contrast, he defines discourage as “to say or take away the courage of, to deter, to lessen enthusiasm for and so restrict or hinder.”
Amazingly, our words have the capacity for both, and we are faced with the choice every time we speak as to which it will be. The Hebrew word “mouth” (peh) is often translated edge. Like a knife, the tongue has a sharp powerful edge that can be used to either heal or destroy. The knife in the hands of a skilled surgeon brings healing and life, but a knife in the hands of a felon brings death and destruction. Like the surgeon, we can study how to use our mouths to bring life to those around us. But it’s not easy, and the tongue is difficult to control.
Our words should build up and not tear down. They should minister grace, or as one little girl explained to Florence Littaeur during a children’s sermon, words should “be like silver boxes with bows on top” – like verbal presents. They are God’s gift to us and we in-turn give them as gifts to those around us. But words are not ordinary presents. They are displayed on a prominent shelf in the heart as a treasured possession.
Dear Father, I pray that you will help my words to be verbal presents to all those I encounter today. May they be seasoned with salt, sweetened with honey, and nourishing to the soul.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Go back to that last sentence in today’s devotion: “They [words] are displayed on a prominent shelf in the heart as a treasured possession.”
Can you think of encouraging words that were spoken to you in the past that you have treasured in your heart?
Can you think of a sharp word that hurt you to the core?
Don’t ponder it. Leave it in the past. Those are not to be placed among our collectibles.
I imagine that two different people came to your mind with those last questions. Now, wouldn’t you like for your face to come to someone’s mind when asked about an encouraging word that she treasured in her heart – or he has treasured in his heart?
More from the Girlfriends:
Today’s devotion is taken from Sharon’s book, The Power of a Woman’s Words and The Power of a Woman’s Words Bible Study. There is great power in the words we speak and the people we impact. If you would like to learn more about how to harness this powerful resource and use your words to speak life into others, this book will be a great resource. Why not get a group of girlfriends together and learn about The Power of a Woman’s Words together!