Read: Proverbs 18:21
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (The Message)
Next time, before you speak, think about Solomon’s words, and remember this: Death and life are in the power of your tongue.
So you have a choice to make: Are you going to use your words to build up those around you, or tear them down? Will you add wind to their sail or destroy their dream? Will you use your words to open the door to a better future for someone needing your encouragement and affirmation, or use them to slam the door that keeps them in a prison of doubt, fear, guilt and failure.
That’s how powerful your words are—especially to the little ones who might be within earshot of your voice. Life and death—yep, they’re that powerful. So powerful are they that Mark Twain once quipped, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” He may have said that in jest, yet he was expressing what the Bible doesn’t joke about—that our speech either gives birth to or pulls the plug to life support. So important is this that Scripture often reminds us of it, not only here in Proverbs 18:21, but in plenty of other places as well. Consider just a few:
“The mouth of the righteous is a tree of life.” ~Proverbs 10:11
“The tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~Proverbs 12:18
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” ~Proverbs 12:25
The point is, though our words can be used to tear down, they are also the conduits by which love, acceptance and worth flow, bringing life-giving nourishment to another’s soul. Without those kinds of affirming words, spoken authentically, creatively and regularly, our kids will most likely grow up with a horrible sense of worth, our spouse will be tempted to look for encouragement in other places, the people we work with will avoid us like the plague—and yak about us behind our back—and the opportunity to change the course of another person’s day, or week, or life, or even their eternity will have been lost.
That’s why, in Ephesians 4:29, the Apostle Paul said, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their need, that it may benefit those who listen.”
When you choose to use your words to encourage—literally, that word means to “inspire courage”—you give a gift whose value will only be revealed in time, or perhaps in eternity.
You choose! Either use the next sentence out of your mouth to bless or to curse.
“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest
asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man
is by appreciation and encouragement.” ~Charles Schwab
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
Here’s a great passage to memorize, and an even better one to live out—Hebrews 10:24-25,
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Find someone to practice “love, good deeds and encouragement” on every day this week—without them knowing about it—and watch what happens by the end of the week.