Are Your Words Life-Giving?


How can we build others up using our words?

I’d love for you to meet my friend, Cory. He’s a man of life-giving words.

We get together from time to time for coffee or lunch. We have a lot in common—we both strive to be godly husbands and fathers, we’re both in full-time Christian work, we both want to leave a godly legacy in this world. He encourages me, I encourage him—and I think I get the better end of that deal.

Here’s an example of how Cory’s words give life. After coffee the other day, when I was about to leave, he looked me directly in the eyes and said: “You’re a good man.” I turned away, but he said it again. “Dean, you’re a good man.” Then, he said it a third time.

I’ll admit that it’s sometimes hard to see myself the way God views me—through the blood of Christ and thus as a redeemed, good man. At times I’ve grown “weary of well-doing” (Galatians 6:9), and my words haven’t always built others up. Of course, in times like these, it’s the ones you love who can take the brunt of it.

It’s not just my words, it’s the tone I use as well. I remember the time my daughter Sarah found the courage to confront me: “Dad, I get scared when you talk like that.” Her words pierced my heart.

Here’s what God has to say on the matter—wise and relevant words from the book of Proverbs:

  •  “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
  •  “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
  •  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21)
  •  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)
  • “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19)

Especially in those times when I’ve fallen short, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I’ve learned the importance of two very life-giving words: “I’m sorry.” I try to keep short accounts, to apologize from the heart, and to seek to make things right when I’m in the wrong.

I’ve also learned the importance of three different life-giving words, which must be backed up with actions as well: “I love you.”

Do you have a friend like Cory, one who builds you up and is used by God to bring out your best? If not, what can you do to change that?

Further, can you identify those folks on the home front who need to hear those all-important, life-giving words, “I’m sorry” and “I love you”?

Let me conclude with another apt word from the Bible, this one from the psalmist David—a reminder that God is listening in, too: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Indeed, may our words be life-giving, and may our rock and redeemer be pleased.

This post was written by Dean Ridings.

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