Encouraging Words

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Encouraging Words

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 Speech has many purposes and functions. We use it to communicate our thoughts, feelings, desires, instructions and ideas to others.

The Bible shows us how to use speech as a positive tool to strengthen and build lasting relationships with others, while spreading God's way of life through our words. Positive speech can cheer up sadness (Proverbs 12:25 Proverbs 12:25Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop: but a good word makes it glad.
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) and bring joy (Proverbs 15:23 Proverbs 15:23A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
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). Rash or reckless words act like sword thrusts (Proverbs 12:18 Proverbs 12:18There is that speaks like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
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) and gossiping can ruin friendships (Proverbs 16:28 Proverbs 16:28A fraudulent man sows strife: and a whisperer separates chief friends.
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). When we use words appropriately, they are like “apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11 Proverbs 25:11A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
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) and “a honeycomb [that brings] sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 Proverbs 16:24Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
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).

The ability to choose what we say to others is one of the most precious gifts God has given us, yet the human capacity to use speech to inflict pain is one of the most dangerous weapons we possess. Knowing what to say and when and how to say it takes wisdom (Proverbs 16:23-24 Proverbs 16:23-24 23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
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). Being able to control our speech is equivalent to keeping the “whole body in check” and is described as “perfect” (James 3:2 James 3:2For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
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, New International Version). As we strive for the same perfection as our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:48 Matthew 5:48Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
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), we need to make careful choices in how we use our speech.

As a young Christian, I have found that even if there aren't many physical opportunities to serve, I can usually contribute by offering encouraging words of appreciation to those who work behind the scenes. Many of these people do not receive recognition or thanks very often.

Being an encourager is an essential part of the job description of a Christian. Instructions to encourage one another appear many times throughout the Bible (Deuteronomy 1:38 Deuteronomy 1:38But Joshua the son of Nun, which stands before you, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
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; 3:28; Acts 15:32 Acts 15:32And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brothers with many words, and confirmed them.
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; Ephesians 6:22 Ephesians 6:22Whom I have sent to you for the same purpose, that you might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
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; Colossians 4:8 Colossians 4:8 Whom I have sent to you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
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; 1 Thessalonians 4:18 1 Thessalonians 4:18Why comfort one another with these words.
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; 5:14; 2 Timothy 4:2 2 Timothy 4:2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
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). There are various ways we can use encouraging words to “build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 1 Thessalonians 5:11Why comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do.
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, NIV), including sharing thanks and appreciation, offering support, paying compliments and even giving written words of encouragement (1 Peter 5:12 1 Peter 5:12By Silvanus, a faithful brother to you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand.
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).

One of the best ways to be an encourager is to share God's truth and promises with others or pass along encouraging scriptures, especially to those who are struggling with trials or doubting their faith (1 Thessalonians 5:14 1 Thessalonians 5:14Now we exhort you, brothers, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
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). The prophets Judas and Silas (Acts 15:32 Acts 15:32And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brothers with many words, and confirmed them.
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), as well as Tychicus (Ephesians 6:22 Ephesians 6:22Whom I have sent to you for the same purpose, that you might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
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; Colossians 4:8 Colossians 4:8 Whom I have sent to you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
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) were sent to encourage and strengthen the believers as well as encourage their hearts. Strengthening the faith and convictions of fellow believers not only promotes harmony and unity in God's family, but also helps us develop stronger spiritual leadership skills.

Ananias' example

While there are plenty of instances where people in the Bible used words to inflict harm and pain on others, the positive examples of encouragement provide models for us today. In Acts we read that God, in a vision, told the disciple Ananias to go to the house where Saul of Tarsus was staying. Saul was a man who maliciously worked to prevent the gospel from being spread. Yet God instructed Ananias to “place his hands on [Saul] to restore his sight” (Acts 9:10-12 Acts 9:10-12 10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said to him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prays, 12 And has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
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, NIV), which he had lost when Christ miraculously appeared to him.

Even though he was aware of the evil Saul had done against God, Ananias still obeyed, laying his hands on the blind man and encouraging him by telling Saul that he would regain his sight and become an “instrument” to spread the gospel (Acts 9:13-17 Acts 9:13-17 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on your name. 15 But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel to me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. 17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared to you in the way as you came, has sent me, that you might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
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). Instantly Saul was able to see again, was baptized and went on to do the work of God (Acts 9:18-19 Acts 9:18-19 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight immediately, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
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). Undoubtedly Ananias' reassuring words were of great comfort to Saul, who went on to become the apostle Paul.

The Bible instructs us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44 Matthew 5:44But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
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) as well as telling us to do good to those who hate us and bless those who curse us (Luke 6:27-28 Luke 6:27-28 27 But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which spitefully use you.
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). What better way to do this than encourage others with our speech and through our prayers?

Sometimes we are presented with opportunities to encourage people we don't even know. But sometimes we will face people who have hurt us in the past. If Ananias had not been willing to take on the role of an encourager, even to an unholy and evil person, the story of Saul and his conversion may have been very different. We, too, must be willing to encourage those we are not fond of, because they are often the people we can impact the most.

The act of encouraging others is so simple and costs nothing, but oftentimes is overlooked and infrequent. We need to seek out opportunities to encourage and uplift others, putting our gift of positive speech to good use.

To be strong examples of God's way, the love that is in our hearts must be illustrated through our speech because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34 Matthew 12:34O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
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). Our hearts should be filled with encouraging words so our speech reflects God's way of life. Becoming an encouraging person will not only positively impact the lives of others, but will also improve our own attitude and outlook on life. I encourage you to try it!

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