The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. -Proverbs 18:21
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry… -James 1:19
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. -II Corinthians 13:11
This past month or two, as I have been praying and really seeking God’s guidance and wisdom in how best to move forward with Abogar International Ministries, I have recognized a very important area in my life that needs some work… how and when I use my words. It is apparent that I need to grow in listening, learning, compassion, and encouragement toward others. I want to be someone who encourages others. I want to speak life, hope, joy, and love into people’s lives, that they may see and know Jesus!
Having grown up in foster care, and through some extreme abusive situations, I have found myself having to spend a lot of my time, in the first 35 years of my life, focused on healing, growth, maturity, and development. I would dare say probably more than most people need to go through. And while I am FAR from perfect, and yet have a long way to go, the “Well done!” and “I am proud of you!” affirmations that are so important have been so very few and far between. But I say this not for people to pat me on the back or be proud of me. I am not trying to whine or ‘woe is me’ to you all. Rather, it is this recognition that causes me to want to be a difference in what it means to better reflect Christ as part of His body. I really do see how words can create life and death, and looking back on my life I can pinpoint times where people really spoke either life or death into me.
A couple of years ago I was sitting in a class for the ordination process, and one of my classmates shared a very telling story. He talked of when he was a young boy at a church holiness camp, and a missionary whom he really admired sat across the table from him at lunch one day. The missionary really saw the boy, and spoke words of belief and encouragement over him. It was a special moment that caused that boy-grown-man to tear up as he recalled the experience. How many of us really consider our words, are careful about what harmful things we may say, and truly focus on encouraging others? While there is place for admonition, rebuke, and correction, I think there is an even greater place needed in each of our lives for encouragement and life to be spoken over us.
Lord, may the words of my mouth, and meditations of my heart, be pleasing to You! Lord, give me opportunities and perspective to share “Well done!” and “I am proud of you!” and many other encouragements and life into others around me. Help me to be a difference, a positive difference, for what it means to be a part of Your body; to listen, to love, to speak life and encourage well! Amen!