One of the most powerful things on earth is the tongue. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the power of life and death are in it. The words you choose to say to someone can make or break their day and even their life. According to a study done by the University of Arizona, the average person speaks about 16,000 words a day. How many of those words are we being intentional about? How many times do we say something in passing or jokingly that could hurt someone? The more we speak, the greater the chances are that we become less intentional about what we say. More than that, a UCLA study showed that 93% of communication is nonverbal. So beyond what we’re saying, how we’re nonverbally communicating it to someone is more important when it comes to how they receive it.
Several years ago in Israel, I was touring Jesus’ hometown of a Nazareth. The guide there shared that while Joseph taught Jesus to be a carpenter, that word had a broader meaning back then. It wasn’t just wood that a carpenter would have worked with. They would have also worked with stones. 1 Peter 2:5 says you and I are living stones being built up into a spiritual house. Think about what he’s saying with the context that Jesus would be a stone carpenter. Also think about how buildings were built out of stone back then versus wood today. You are a building block of God’s Kingdom that Jesus is shaping and placing in just the right place. Now think of how you and I are to be Christlike in building each other up. We are stone carpenters ourselves.
Jude 1:20-21 says, “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love” (NLT). Each of us have a divine command to built each other up. We must use words, prayer and the Bible to encourage one another and build each other up. If we’re constantly putting others down, we’re in essence trying to undo the work that Jesus is trying to do in their lives. We are partners with Him in this, so let’s work together with Him in building up the lives of those around us. Pray each day asking the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to say to build up others when they need it most. You might just speak life into someone and save their life.
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Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
If your spirit has ever been broken, you know how hard it is to get through the day. It’s hard to even wake up, let alone face people. Worry consumes your mind. You question everyone’s intentions, and your energy gets depleted. It’s tough to be stuck in that phase. If you’ve ever been through it, then you can empathize with others who are going through it. They need your support and encouragement more than your advice in those times.
Proverbs 15:13 says, “A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day” (MSG). When you see someone whose spirit has been crushed and they’re struggling to make it through the day, offer words that will encourage them to continue going. Chances are that it was words that put them in that state and its our words that can bring them out of it. If only we had the courage to speak them.
If you’ve ever watched an action movie, there is usually a scene where one person is hanging off a cliff or the side of a building and another person grabs them with one arm. They then use all their strength to pull that person back to safety. That’s what our words have the power to do. They can pull back someone who has been pushed over the edge and is barely hanging on. We have the power and strength to save someone’s life simply by encouraging them.
I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up” (NLT). Paul’s words are a reminder to us as Christians that we are to constantly be encouraging, strengthening, edifying, and building each other up. We are to find a way to a cheerful heart. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing” (AMP). You can help heal someone’s brokenness today if only you will open your mouth to offer encouragement instead of correction or direction. You have the power, use it.
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Recently I was talking to a group of people on the Importance of the words you use when talking to yourself. Many times when we mess up, we pound ourself on the head and say something like, “Stupid!” It’s not good to do that. The more you say something, the more it gets into your subconscious. The more it gets in there, the more you believe it, and we always act according to what we believe. So it’s critical that we are intentional about the words we use because they determine our success in life.
It’s also a good habit to consider the words we use when we talk to others. Are we more apt to lifting up or putting down? This one is tougher for me to follow. It’s natural for me to quickly take a shot at someone rather than to intentionally build them up. It requires using a filter and repetitively replacing positive words for the negative ones. Proverbs 10:11 says, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life and his words of wisdom are a source of blessing” (AMP). Are the words you use a fountain of life to yourself and others?
There really is the power of life and death in the tongue. According to James, none of us will ever tame it completely. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make sure we are a fountain of life, wisdom and blessings. The words you use today towards yourself and others are important. You can choose from millions of words to speak into someone’s life including your own. Choose to speak life. Choose to be a blessing rather than a curse. Watch and see how your words can change someone’s day or how they see themselves. The life you change just might be your own.
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When I was in the Fifth grade, my lunch time consisted of a group of boys gathered around a table. We would have put down contests and Yo Mamma joke contests. Each day two boys would be chosen, one from each side of the table, and they would trade put downs until one ran out of them or one of them started crying. When one boy won, two more would be chosen and it would continue. I learned to be quick witted from that, but I also learned that putting down others was funny.
We were just kids, but we were finding out how powerful words could be. Just by saying certain things, you could make someone laugh or cry. We were too immature to understand the power of those words and the ability of them to stay in someone’s mind with the potential to define them. I don’t know what happened to the rest of the boys at that table, but I hope they learned how to use words to build others up instead of tearing them down. The words we speak to others are so powerful that we shouldn’t treat them lightly.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you” (GNT). This should be the standard we use when talking to others. Before we speak, our filter should ask, “Will these words do good or cause harm?” God is in the business of building people up. As His followers, we need to be doing the same. I’ve still got work to do in this area, but my prayer is that God would help me to use my words wisely so that they provide what is needed, do good to those who hear them and build others up.
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