Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Longing for a Good Word

     How often do we take the time to share a good word of encouragement with the people we meet each day?  Most frequently, we just say "Hello, how are you today?"  The usual reply is "Fine".  Yet this is merely a kind of pleasantry that never reaches beyond skin deep.  To be honest, we simply do not take the time to listen and speak a "good word" to those around us.  God has more than equipped each one of us to be able to share encouragement, love and concern for those in our lives.
Time talking with one another and sharing together is time
well spent.  Drue, Glenn and I in Milwaukee.
     For example, we had an old gentleman (89 years old) come into our office the other day.  His hat proudly proclaimed that he was a World War II veteran and his T-shirt was emblazoned with the words "Honor Flight".  Here in front of me stood a man of honor, integrity and courage - one of the "greatest generation".  I told him how we appreciated his service to our country.  It was a simple statement, but one that caused him to open up and share some of his stories from the war.  That he returned at all was a miracle as most of his squad had been killed following the invasion of Normandy.  He must have talked non-stop for twenty minutes, but it seemed like only a moment as I love history.  When it came time for him to go, he looked at those of us sitting at the front desk and said with all the sincerity in his heart, "I did this for you so you could be free."  Those words blessed me and I was grateful for this time of communication.  We thanked him for sharing his story with us and again told him how much his service meant to this country.  
      Scripture teaches us in Proverbs 12:25:  "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."  There is always time for a "kind word".  There is always time to listen to someone tell their story.  This is what biblical encouragement is all about.  As I listened to the old gentleman the other day, I could see the sparkle in his eye as he recalled what he had experienced.  He had an audience....a person to interact with.  How many of our older Christian brothers and sisters are alone and need a good word or someone to talk to?
     Another excellent instruction comes from Ephesians 4:29: " Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  Corrupt communication (off color jokes, unkind words, name calling) does nothing to build up any person with whom we are talking.  In the Body of Christ as well as in front of those who do not know the Lord, we are to build others up so we can benefit those who hear us.  This is especially true when we are around children.  If there is anyone who grabs words and phrases more rapidly, it is children.  Therefore, we must be careful to benefit, bless and build children up avoiding statements like:  "That was dumb"; "How could you be so stupid?"; "You are so clumsy" to name a few.  Words like these are really not helpful.  Instead, we need to address them in ways that will lead to a positive change.  Tell them what they are doing right and how God loves them and made them to glorify Him.  Do you see the difference?
     Of course, the list of those who need a good word spoken at the right moment could go on and on in addition to children and the elderly.  However, the point is that we need to redeem what time we have and bring joy to others by sharing a Scripture, giving a sincere compliment, telling someone how much we appreciate them.  How long has it been since you have taken time to talk to a friend?  When have you last told your family that you value and appreciate them?  We become so focused on just making it through the day that we often do not take time to reconnect with those in the Body of Christ by sharing a good word of encouragement.
     There are two Scriptures which I daily pray for myself before I go out to work.  The first is found in James 1:19-20: " My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."  Part of conversation is listening.  We need time to think before we speak.  Also the Lord wants us to avoid speaking out in anger.  The second verse I pray is Psalm 19:14 which reads:  "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." 
This is serious business for God is the unseen listener in every conversation.
     Who can you bless today?  Whose story can you listen to?  God has first called us into relationship with Himself; then, He wants us to build relationships both within the Body of Christ and those without.  May our lips be full of the good fruit of God's love so that His grace overflows to reach others with good news and encouragement.  This will bring glory to God and build up others who are made in His image.  Selah!

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