Thursday, September 16, 2010
Words of Encouragement
Sometimes in life you have an experience which reminds you of a simple but wonderfully profound truth. Last night I had such an experience. I was reminded about the power of a word.
The Book of James, in the New Testament, instructs us about the power of words. James 1:26 states, "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless." Later in James we read, "...the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell...no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so" (3:6-10). What is James' point? It is simply this: words have great importance and immense potential--for both good and evil.
Think hard for a minute about the last time that somebody really put some proverbial "wind in your sails" through a timely word of encouragement. Does anything come to mind? Can you remember any positive words of affirmation or encouragement from the past week...month...year?!!! Unfortunately, there seems to be an imbalance of critical speech verses encouraging speech in our relationships. Ephesians 4:30 says, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." This verse is so important to us in our home that my four-year-old daughter, Gabbie, has committed it to memory. Words truly do matter. The old adage "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" sounds really nice, but then how do you feel when someone punches you in the gut with a phrase of rebuke or criticism? It sort of hurts, doesn't it?!
So all of that was a bit of painting a backdrop, or context, for the word of encouragement that I received from a potential member of New Beginnings last night. I asked a small group of folks who were attending the membership class the following question: Why are you interested in committing to New Beginnings BFC? Their responses were all very good. They revealed some things that I hadn't thought much about, and touched on other things that affirmed much of our vision and strategy. But, one of the participants in the group shared the following statement that I wanted to relay to you verbatim. The person said, "I am interested in joining this body of believers in Jesus Christ because I clearly see the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit here." Needless to say, I had to hold back the tears when I heard that statement. Truthfully, I nearly fell out of my chair.
It is one powerful word of encouragement like that which will re-energize the worn out batteries of your life. Listen, there are plenty of things about my ministry as a church planting pastor that need to improve. There are several things that this individual could have pointed out as potential issues or roadblocks to membership. But instead, what proceeded from their mouth was a word of life and encouragement. It was a pretty awesome experience for me.
Someone once said, "The best way to have a friend is to be a friend." Applying that idea to words of encouragement, we might suggest that if you crave encouragement from others, be committed and willing to give encouragement to others. I like to use the principle of sharing at least ten positive words for every one negative, or critical, word with someone.
How about your life? Have you received some great encouragement recently? Are you the sort of person who is quick to encourage others?