“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11
An ornate chamber, richly adorned with silver panels and fruits carved in gold. As beautiful piece of decoration as can be imagined. This fine metaphor is used by Solomon in order to give the highest possible praise for a word spoken at the right time.
I remember the feelings such words instilled in me as a child. Whenever an adult would recognize that something I did or said was worthy of their praise, I was infused with a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
Truly, encouraging words do not have to be fancy or part or a long speech. A simple and sincere “I’m proud of you” is worth a thousand lectures. Likewise, hurtful words have the ability to linger in our souls and negatively shape the way we perceive ourselves or our efforts.
For the hearer, words are not merely enunciation. They are uttered thoughts, their very soul is the idea behind them. And when a good word is spoken in the right circumstance, it can resound in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Solomon is indeed describing the qualities of the word of an encourager: Rare, costly, beautiful and precious. Truly, words of goodness and encouragement are absolutely priceless!
I think of my husband – one of the biggest encouragers I know. I love to hear the stories of people who come into his office, asking for prayer or advice. He always offers them encouragement. He is also always careful to praise his teammates and encourage the younger employees to reach their full potential. If he believes in you, he will make sure you and others know it. It is a precious quality that all leaders should possess.
It is a priceless attitude that all parents should cultivate.
So why is it that my words are not always encouraging to my children?
Don’t judge me. Surely I’m not alone in the “Not-So-Perfect Mother Club”.
I resound Paul’s words in Romans 7:19 “When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.” That pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it? We know better, but when we least expect it, our sinful nature takes over, getting the best of us and often controlling our speech.
We get too tired and forget that yelling does not reflect the Fruit of the Spirit…
We get overstretched and lose patience with those who need it most…
We get upset with our boss, husband or wife and lose our temper with the little ones instead…
Yes. Our words are not just words. They are a mirror to our hearts.
So it’s more than self-control, isn’t it?
It’s more than sitting in lotus position as some cults do, humming for patience. It’s even more than quoting Scripture. It’s really a matter of self-awareness… and often healing.
It could be that we are repeating the same patterns we were exposed to as a child. We may have had a mother or father who could not utter one single word of appreciation…
Or we may have heard over and over again how ugly, stupid, or clumsy we were… and we believed! And so we pass on the legacy of discouragement and negativity to the next generation.
But we don’t want to! No, we don’t!
We long to break the chains of self-deprecation and discouragement and Speak Life into the lives of the people around us. We long to be encouragers, confidence builders, godly influencers!
And we can.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
We think of this verse as linked to salvation. And it is. But we must claim it for any sort of unrighteousness in our lives. Not only is He faithful to cleanse us from all our sins, He is faithful to heal our past traumas… our soul diseases.
I wonder how often we take possession of this truth?
That Jesus wants to heal us from the wounds of our past, that we may become true light bearers to those around us?
That there is no darkness that His light cannot expose?
That there is no impatience, defeat, lie or anger that His love cannot heal?
That He has called us to be encouragers, speaking life instead of death, victory instead of defeat! And that He longs to help us become just that.
Indeed, my friend, we will never be perfect. But we must not settle. We must ask Jesus, the Great Encourager, to help us overcome the discouragement that others sowed into our lives, that we may become confidence-builders, empowering others, especially our children, to reach their full potential.
Again, I say – Let’s choose to Speak Life!
Verses to Ponder:
“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8