“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
I’ve heard it said, “Be kind to everyone for everyone is going through some kind of battle.” If we are not in a present battle, we are either entering one or coming out of one. The days are getting more difficult and we must do everything we can to support and encourage one another along life’s journey. We read in Hebrews 10:25, “but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” A positive word or encouraging prayer can change one’s perspective in difficulty and make a huge difference in a person’s life.
We all know how deeply we long for others to encourage us. Let us be the ones to lift the burdens of others through a simple word and prayer of encouragement. The word “encourage” in Webster’s Dictionary means: “to give or increase confidence of success; to inspire with courage, or strength of mind, to embolden, to incite, to inspirit.” We need to represent Jesus Christ to others by increasing the confidence and courage in them to do great things for God. Just as He is our refuge and our tower of strength, we need to be a safe and encouraging place for others.
One homemaker was able to encourage multitudes of men and women to live a healthier life. Jean Nidetch was a 214-pound homemaker who, like so many others, was desperate to lose weight. She finally went on a special diet, but it was so hard. Two months later she was totally discouraged because she could not lose the weight (50+ pounds!) Jean though of an idea! She decided to invite six of her overweight friends home to share about the diet and discuss how to stay on it. Today, about 30 years later, over one million members attend 250,000 Weight Watchers meetings in 24 countries every week.
Why could this woman help so many people take control of their lives? What was her amazing secret?
When Jean was a teenager, she used to pass a park where she saw mothers gossiping while their children sat on their swings without anyone to push them. Jean would go over and give them a push. She noticed that when you push children on a swing, soon they are pumping and doing it themselves. This became her role in life. She said, “I’m there to give others a push.” This is why so many people could lose weight through weight watchers. She would give them a push of encouragement and soon they were losing weight themselves! Words cheer up an anxious and troubled heart (Proverbs 10:25).
We must realize the power of the tongue. Solomon says in Proverbs 18:21, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” We often are not tongue conscious, and instead of inspiring others with courage, we may bring great discouragement with our words. Did you know that it takes a baby two years to learn to talk and 60 years to learn to keep his mouth shut? If you filled a library with a lifetime of your words, what would be the titles of the books in it? Our tongues have potential to build up or cause destruction.
The Bible speaks much about the tongue. The book of Proverbs speaks of both the evil and good side of the tongue. Tongue, lips, mouth and words appear 150 times in Proverbs. James 3:1-12 speaks with greatest authority and impact on the subject of the evil side of the tongue. James compares the tongue with the rudder on a ship. It has a powerful influence. A rudder on a ship, though small, steers a ship to its destiny. He also speaks of the tongue as like a fire’s spark which can set a whole forest on fire! (James 3:4-5).
If life and death are in the power of the tongue and we can set a great forest on fire through our words, how can we learn to tame our tongue and use it for God’s glory?
How to Tame Our Tongue
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
Let’s diligently practice the following ways to tame our tongue, while study carefully these Scriptures:
- Acknowledge our dependence on God – We cannot control our tongue by our self. We need to ask God for help. Even David had difficulty in controlling his tongue (Psalm 39:1-3).
- Admit and confess sins of the tongue – We need to come into the presence of God, ask Him to reveal any sin areas in our speech, and confess the sins of the tongue. God promises to forgive us (1 John 1:9).
- Be sensitive in our speech towards others – We need to think before we speak. We must ask God to give us sensitivity towards others and alert us to negative speech even before we say it (Ephesians 4:29).
- Fill our mind with Scripture on a daily basis – What we feed into our spirit, comes out of our mouths. If we fill our minds with God’s Word, we can better help and encourage one another in speech and in prayer. God’s Word can judge the thoughts and attitudes of our heart (Hebrews 4:12).
- Don’t listen to negative speech or gossip – It will only bring us down and tempt us to sin in our speech. Gossip hurts deeply and is a snare (Proverbs 18:7-8).
- Cultivate the art of listening to others – Many of us are good talkers but not good listeners. The Bible says that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).
- Spend time in praise and thanksgiving to God – This puts us into the atmosphere of encouragement. We then become more heavenly minded with a greater ability to bless others in our speech and prayers (Psalm 50:23).
- Think of ways to build others up with words of life – We must consider and give attention to how we can stimulate others to love and good deeds. By nature we are self-focused, but God wants to make us other-focused (Hebrews 10:24).
We live in a fallen world. Instead of pulling one another down, let’s help each other to live for Christ in a greater way. We can do this in a number of ways; wise counsel and advise, prayer, spiritual exhortation, encouragement, and comfort. We need to tame our tongue so that blessing can flow to others freely and unhindered. We need to see excellence in one another and speak it out.
There is power in encouragement. Edward Steichen became one of the world’s most well-known photographers but he almost gave up the first day he started taking pictures. When he was 16-years-old, he bought a camera and took 50 photos. The only picture that turned out was one of his sister seated at the piano. This was one picture out of 50! That means there were 49 failures! His father thought it was bad, but his mother insisted that the photo of his sister was so beautiful that it made up for all the bad ones. Her words of encouragement convinced this brand-new photographer not to give up.
What was the outcome? He stayed with it for the rest of his life and became excellent as a photographer. His mother had vision for what he could do and was able to spot excellence in the midst of 49 failures.
Make it a point to encourage others through your speech and prayers this week. Whether it is through a telephone call, a prayer, writing a note or e-mail, or through verbal words, make a conscious effort to put courage and confidence into others. Prayerfully consider how you will do this. It does not come naturally for most of us. Study how you can inspire others with courage. You may be surprised, because often when we encourage others, we ourselves are encouraged (Proverbs 11:25).
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
By Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International