Summary: We need to speak words of encouragement more freely
Not long ago someone was telling me about a trip he had made to the Bahamas. He said he was walking along and he came to this pier on the beach, and at the end of this pier there was this great commotion that was taking place at the end of the pier and he was curious so he went to see what was going on. He looked down and he saw this modern day adventure who was preparing his homemade sailboat for a solo trip around the world.
He said everyone was around that pier yelling at this young man.
“You’ll never make it.”
“You’ll run out of food.”
“You’ll die of thirst.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“You’re a fool.”
But there was one voice in that crowd. A relative probably. Obviously a friend. One voice that was shouting, “You can do it. I have confidence in you. I’m proud of you..”
What a perfect example of life!
In the old cowboy folk song, there is a line about the home on the range, “where seldom is heard a discouraging word.”
But we in our life and place seldom hear an encouraging word.
Many of us stand at life’s piers and we look down on others, speaking discouraging words.
We need to learn to watch what we say. James says that “no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison … Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.”
What do we do with our words? Do we hurt, or do we heal? Do we discourage, or do we encourage?
The author of Hebrews said in his New Testament book (Heb 3:13), “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
St. Paul said in his first letter to the Thessalonians (5:11), “Encourage one another and build each other up.”
Yet most of us do not do that. We speak evil of one another. We tell lies about one another. We give discouraging words to one another.
Many of us stand at life’s piers and look down at others and tell others, “You’re never going to make it.”
“You are a fool.”
“It can’t be done.”
James was right when he said “no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison … Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.”
What do we do with our words? Do we hurt, or do we heal? Do we discourage, or do we encourage? We need to learn to watch what we say.
The Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo was not an easy person to serve under. He was a brilliant, demanding soldier but he was not one to shower his subordinates with praise and words of encouragement. Yet, even the Duke understood that his methods left something to be desired. Late in his life he was asked if he had his life to live over again, would he do anything differently. And he admitted that if given the opportunity he would give more praise to others.
And all of us ought to do just that. Praise one another and give encouragement.
Now mind you, I’m not suggesting that the Scriptures teach that we should give false praise and empty flattery.
Our Old Testament lesson from the Psalms says, “flattering lips speak with deception.”
William Author Ward once said, “Flatter me and I will never believe you. Criticize me and I may not like you. Ignore me and I will never forgive you. But encourage me and I will never forget you.”
Dr. John Trent, President of Today’s Family, said in a magazine article that sometimes giving encouragement means giving praise in the work of another person. Words and phrases like, “great job,” or “I’m proud of you,” or “Beautiful work,” or “well done.”
But on the other hand, there are times when encouragement makes no pretense that the other person has done a good job because maybe the other person has not done a good job at all.
Maybe they have done a lousy job, but we still should watch what we say, for they still need a word of encouragement from us.
You need to lift someone up in such a way that says to him or her, “You’re worth something. You have value to others.”
I read recently about a man who lost his job and he was thrown out of his profession for some indiscretion. He was a white-collar worker. Had a wife, kids, nice home, nice car. Everything he’d dreamed of. Then he lost his job. He lost his car, the house had to be sold and the family had to move into a tiny apartment.