As children, we learned the highly inaccurate adage, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I broke a lot of bones as a kid. I can’t even tell you how many, and I don’t remember all of the causes. But I have vivid recollections of the words people said to me that both built me up and tore me down. This makes a lot of sense, based on my 5 Love Languages Assessment, which identifies Words of Affirmation as, by far, the number one way I receive love. My assessment says, “Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.”
I was fortunate to have parents who were constantly encouraging me with their words and their support. This was especially true when I played organized sports. Whether I was starting the game or sitting on the bench, my parents were there to cheer me on. Regardless of the box score, my dad would always ask if I tried my best and if I had fun. I would say yes, and he would tell me he was proud of me. Now, married and with children of my own, I still remember my dad’s words, just as I am sure the servants in Matthew 25 remembered the day their master returned and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Likewise, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke each recount the transfiguration, during which God says of Jesus, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” How incredible would it be to hear God say those words to us when we meet him in heaven?
It is easy to see how our words can encourage others, through simple compliments, saying thank you, or recognizing a job well done. It might be easier still to see how words can destroy others. But how do our words affect God? And how can we use them to show God love? One of the most practical ways is to pray. Even though God knows what we need before we even ask, Proverbs 15:8 says, “The prayer of the upright is his delight.” Praising God by singing is another way we can use our words for God, even if you sing as poorly as I do. God gave us our voices, and he loves to hear them! And if singing isn’t your thing, try writing your words down. Ben Snyder often talks about his passion for journaling, and he even challenged the church to try it during the “Design Your Life” series. Take the time to reflect on what is going on in your life, and how you responded, specifically with your words.
Imagine living by the words of the Psalmist in 71:8: “I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.” How would your life be different if you were constantly singing the praises of God, using your words to glorify him and honor others?
7My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
8That is why I can never stop praising you;
I declare your glory all day long.
God, forgive me for the times I have used my words to gossip, to hurt others, or to embarrass or curse someone. I want to know what it feels like to hear you say, “Well done.” Use me to bring that joy to someone’s life by using my words to edify them and to lift them up. Amen.
This post was written by Ryan Cook. Ryan is the business director at Chick-Fil-A in Toledo. He enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and daughter, and watching Cleveland sports as much as anyone can. Follow him on twitter @cookfila