Are you an encourager or a discourager? Of course your immediate response would be to reject the thought of being a discourager. It would take a pretty mean person to set out to be a discourager. However, we need to realize that the words we speak can discourage in ways of which we may not be aware. The old saw of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is as false as it gets. Words can definitely hurt; they can leave scars.
Christian artist Toby Mac does a song titled “Speak Life” and in the chorus we find this line:
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak…
You speak life
If I am to love my neighbor as myself, then I should desire to speak a word of encouragement into a person’s life. So much in this world causes anxiety and sometimes just a bit of encouragement goes a long way. King Solomon knew this well:
“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25)
My greatest challenge is in how I answer someone. I can be as gruff as anyone; being an old retired Army First Sergeant lends itself to such conduct. Nevertheless, that is no excuse for being harsh with people. I need to be gentle with people as much as possible. Matching anger for anger just equals more anger:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
I know so many people who are currently facing hard times and an uncertain future and wouldn’t it be nice for them to hear a kind word of encouragement? Even just a gentle reminder that as a child of God this life is not all there is can be enough to get a brother or sister-in-Christ through the day. Knowing that God is still in control is all the reminder I need most days:
“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” (Isaiah 35:3-4)
Now isn’t that better than saying, “America as we know it is through!” I’ve said that before and I can’t help but feel God asking me, “How do you know?” Even if it was true, I can still remind a fellow Christian that in the end God “will come and save you.”
Sometimes I think that if I don’t go after someone or speak to a betrayer of Christ in a harsh way, then they won’t respond. What I know for sure is that when I do speak in harsh tones, the receiver always responds but never in the manner for which I was looking. And come to think of it, I don’t respond well to someone addressing me in a harsh manner. Sometimes it takes patience and gentleness to help someone come around:
“By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.” (Proverbs 25:15)
It has taken the work of Christ in my life, a lot of trial and error and scar-making on my part, to come to realize that my harshness is rarely (if ever) productive. Mostly it is destructive to my shame. I cannot use my knowledge as a sledgehammer to get people to see things my way. As the late, great lion of faith Adrian Rogers once said, “I’m not trying to talk a man into anything because someone can come behind me and talk him out of it.”
No, I must use the knowledge that I have to instruct, aid, and encourage those around me who are struggling:
“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.” (Isaiah 50:4)
That passage is of the Pre-incarnate Christ telling us, through the Prophet Isaiah, that He was to be an encourager. If my goal is to be Christlike, and it should be, should I not be like Christ?
Don’t you want to be that person that can come along someone who is weary and speak a word in season to him or her?
Instead of speaking doom and dread into the lives of those around me, I need to speak hope, love, and life to them.
Then I can sit back and watch them come alive…
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers