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Summary: Learn how to build somebody up with encouraging words through this sermon about the power in your words.

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Sticks and Stones

How to Build Somebody Up

8/6/03

I. Introduction

When Cheryl Prewitt was four years old, she hung around her father’s small country grocery store. Almost daily, the milkman would come into the store and greet her with the words, “How’s my little Miss America?” At first she giggled, but eventually she became comfortable with it…and even liked it a little. Soon the milkman’s greeting became a childhood fantasy…then a teenage dream. Finally, it became a goal…and in 1980, she stood on a stage in Atlantic City and was crowned…Miss America.

Tonight we’re talking about Sticks and Stones: How to Build Somebody Up. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Well, you can say that all you want, but the truth is that life and death is in the power of your tongue, in the words of your mouth. We can go on and on about the power of your words and how you have what you say, and you need to call it like you want it, but tonight we’re going to talk about our words in the context of how we talk to other people. And in that context, you choose whether you want those words to build somebody up or tear somebody down.

II. Build Me Up Buttercup

Play clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (26:00 – 28:15)

King Arthur and his knights approach a castle and ask for information about the Holy Grail. The guard starts calling them all sorts of silly names and refuses to let them in.

Have you ever insulted someone before? What happened?

Have you ever been insulted? How did it make you feel?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (MSG) “11So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.”

Why is it so hard to speak only encouraging words?

How does encouragement affect other people?

What are some practical ways you can learn restraint when you’re tempted to say rude or mean things?

What will you have to do to change your put-downs into words of encouragement?

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) “29Do 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.”

A lot of us have been letting unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. Nobody likes to be called a name. Nobody likes to be discouraged. That’s why the Bible makes it plain that you should only speak encouraging words, words that build others up according to their needs, for their benefit. When you put somebody down, for whatever reason, you’re not benefiting anybody. But when you say something nice to somebody and see his/her face light up, now that’s a benefit not only to the person who received the compliment, but also to anybody that hears you say it.

Robert Schuller tells a story about a banker who always tossed a coin in the cup of a legless beggar who sat on the street outside the bank. But, unlike most people, the banker would always insist on getting one of the pencils the man had beside him. "You are a merchant," the banker would say, "and I always expect to receive good value from merchants I do business with." One day the legless man was not on the sidewalk. Time passed and the banker forgot about him, until he walked into a public building and there in the concessions stand sat the former beggar. He was obviously the owner of his own small business now. "I have always hoped you might come by someday," the man said. “You are largely responsible for me being here. You kept telling me that I was a ’merchant’. I started thinking of myself that way, instead of a beggar receiving gifts. I started selling pencils -- lots of them. You gave me self-respect, and caused me to look at myself differently.”


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