Out of all the countless gifts God has given us, I believe one stands out as the most powerful: The gift of speech.
Think about it. Contrary to that oft-repeated childhood saying about sticks and stones, words have the power to bring life or take it away. Proverbs 10:11 says,
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
Proverbs 15:4 says,
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
Read those verses again, out loud! Your mouth – the words that come out of it – can be a fountain of life. Your tongue – your language – can be not only soothing, but life giving. Awesome!
And the opposite? What a contrast! Violence. Crushed spirits.
Yes, our speech has amazing power to lay people low, or lift them up. As Christians, we are called to build up our fellow believers, our family members, our friends, our neighbors, and the strangers we meet.
Encouragement, you see, is you being who God has made you to be so that others can be who He designed them to be. Encouragement helps others take the “next step” they couldn’t take on their own, allowing them to become more like Christ. How can we become these kind of encouragers?
The apostle Paul is a model for us. He underwent endless trials as he traveled the known world spreading the news of the resurrected Messiah, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But he never failed to be an encouragement to those he encountered. In his first letter to the church of the Thessalonians, he writes this:
“Grace and peace to you. 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.” 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
Let’s take a look at some ways to speak life to those that we love. Paul starts by bestowing a blessing. Of course, you would be looked at weird if you used Paul’s language today. But there are so many ways to bless people. Tell them you’re praying for them. Remind them how privileged you feel to be their friend. Listen to them. Send an email or an old-fashioned card, or better yet,
make a phone call.
What you’re communicating is, “You matter. You matter to me and you matter to God.”
Paul goes on to show his appreciation. He first gives thanks, specifically acknowledging their faith, their love, and their endurance. This shows that he knows these people, and values them. It’s like he’s saying, “You’ve got this, folks. I see you. I appreciate you!”
Do you do that? Maybe you have the tendency to wait until you see things done perfectly, or behavior that’s righteous. Don’t wait!
I also want to encourage you to verbalize your confidence in other people’s faith. Deep down I believe everyone thinks that others are way more spiritual than they are. Part of that may be because we’re not verbalizing what we see in other’s walk with Jesus.
When was the last time you told someone how seeing God work in them is an encouragement to you? We’re little mirrors to one another, and we all need that.
Those who constantly lift people up are doing the work of the Spirit. The power of an affirming word given specifically, lovingly, and authentically, as God leads, is absolutely beyond what you can imagine.
Encourage someone today!
To find out more about the awesome power of encouragement, check out Chip Ingram’s series, Lift.
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