Are you or someone you know facing a difficult situation and in desperate need of a spiritual “shot in the arm”? Most of us have been discouraged and depressed at some point in our lives, yet most of us don’t know how to bring hope to the people in our life that we care about the most.
We don’t think that just a simple encouraging word could make such a difference in someone’s life. But in fact, an affirming word – given lovingly, authentically, and as God leads — is more powerful than we can imagine.
The Bible is full of examples of the benefits of speaking encouragement to others. Here are just a few found just in the book of Proverbs:
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. (Prov. 10:11)
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. (Prov. 15:4)
We can actually learn how to speak life into the lives of people that we love in such a way that it really encourages and changes them.
Our model is the Apostle Paul. He spoke life-giving words to the people at the church in Thessalonica, one of the great political and economic crossroads of the Roman Empire. It was probably one of the most challenging places for a new Christian to live. Greek temples, idols and immorality were everywhere!
Paul wrote a letter to these new Christians who were experiencing a lot of discouragement – and persecution. In it, he gives four main ways that we can encourage others through our speech.
Bestow a blessing.
Paul opens his letter by saying, “Grace to you and peace!” (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)
In our world, it probably wouldn’t work to say this. But we can bless others by telling them that we’re praying for them. If we’re parents, we can tuck in our kids at night and ask God’s blessing on them. We can also bless people through notes, email, and text messages. Even a short text message that says, “I’m thinking about you today and I’m praying for you” can be a blessing.
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 2-3)
We can speak life into people’s lives if we get into the habit of expressing a blessing and expressing appreciation. Notice this isn’t just sharing our feelings: “I’m so glad you’re in my life.”
It’s about being specific about who they are, what they do, and what they’ve done. Observe what people are doing well and then tell them!
Show confidence in their faith.
“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” (v. 4-5)
Most of us have a real confidence problem, when it comes to walking with God. Down deep, we think someone else is always more spiritual than us and the people around us know God more than we do.
When we’re facing discouragement, especially about our faith, we need someone who will reflect God at work when we can’t see Him ourselves.
Affirm their faith and the impact of their life.
“The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.” (v. 7)
We tend to focus on what we’re not doing right. This is why we need others to tell us what we’re doing well. Many of us serving in ministry can relate to this, especially those working “behind the scenes.” Sometimes we need to hear that God has actually used us.
Is there someone in your life who needs an affirming word from you today? Encouraging them could be as simple – and as powerful – as writing them a note and telling them what they’re doing right and the impact they’ve made on your life.
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Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip