One of my favourite things about running is how God often uses it as a time to point something out to me that is usually a challenge. A couple of weeks ago while running on the Constantia Greenbelt God asked me if the words I use when speaking to people speak life. I was like… “not always”.
If you think about it the words you speak can really hurt or encourage someone. Words can make people feel stupid, like a failure and worthless or they can build up, causing people to believe they are actually worth something, are clever or beautiful… I remember when I was little and I would say the rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can’t harm me”. I would say it until I believed it. I think adults tell us to say that to distract us from the damage words could have on us… If I think about it now I think I would much rather have someone beat me up than say mean things to me. The bruises will heal from the beating but the words people use will linger for much longer and then get over thought until I believe those words. I also think God knew this which is why it says “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” in Ephesians 4:29.
Encouraging someone is more than just saying nice things to people or saying, “great job”, “you’re really good at that” or “I appreciate what you did”. I think when God says encourage others and build them up, (1 Thessalonians 5:11) He means we need to do more than just say nice things. I think He wants us to join Him in speaking life into peoples lives. He wants us to partner with Him so He can show us who to encourage and how to do it, whether it’s with words or actions. Sometimes He will put someone on our heart or He will whisper something into our ear when we’re with someone so we know He wants us to encourage and build that person up. I also believe that He also wants us to be encouraging all the time – no matter the circumstance or if we never heard from Him specifically about the person we’re engaging with. Jesus spoke to everyone he came across while he was on earth, he gave people hope and with the help of God breathed life into peoples lives again. We can do the same thing to the people around us… I would even go as far as saying we should be doing that. The bible does say we should imitate Christ.
We can do this by acknowledging the person serving us at the grocery store, a restaurant, library etc. Instead of just saying “hello” to be polite we can engage a little bit. Yesterday I was getting coffee from Seattle Coffee and I noticed that the lady making the coffee seemed a bit deflated. When she gave me the coffee I ordered I told her that she has a very important job – making peoples coffee. A good cup of coffee can really make someones day. She smiled at me as though I had just made her day. I then said thank you, have a good evening and went on my way. Speaking life into someone is about noticing something about them and then saying something to them to build them up.
I’ve really been challenged by God with the words I use or even how I say them to people, especially when I am tired or when I just want to get something finished or hurried along. This is when it’s often hardest for me to be nice, encouraging or to even speak life. God has really challenged me to be more thoughtful in this area. Jesus always stopped for the one even if it made him late because he wanted everyone to know he loved them, that he thought they were worth his time and a some body. I really want imitate this in my life… to be able to stop for the one and speak life into their life.
This is a really awesome song by TobyMac called speak life. It kind of sums everything up about this topic for me.