Friday, April 9, 2010

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones...But Words Will Break My Heart: The Power of Words

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.
I was reading through this passage the other night.  Funny thing is, in college, my roommate Melissa and I memorized chapter 4 and 5 of Ephesians as part of our accountability time.  We would rehearse these chapters again and again.  I probably quoted this verse over 50 times that year.

I don't know about you, but I must admit- I have totally missed the mark on this one.  I consider myself a nice person, but one thing is for sure- I am not KNOWN for my encouragement.  But you know, I know people who are.  I have a cousin named Maggie who is one of the most encouraging people I know.  Every time I finish talking to her, I feel like a superstar because of the encouragement she speaks into my life.  Whenever I hang up the phone, I feel built up, nourished, and empowered.  Paul understood the importance of these type of interactions among believers as he wrote this detailed message to the church of Ephesus. 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come of out your mouths.  Let's stop and take a look at the first part of this verse.  Basically, Paul is asking us to censor every word that comes out of our mouth.  Nothing is to be said that is harmful, critical, rude, selfish, degrading or mean.  Nothing.  Just take some time to consider some of the words that you have spoken in the last 24 hours to your friends, your neighbors, your spouses, your children.  What words have you allowed your lips to utter?

Then, as if it weren't enough just to filter what we say- we are to go out of our way to speak nothing else but words that will build up the people around us.  For each believer, it's not enough to simply "not tear down".  We have to go out of our way to speak words that will bring nourishment and healing to the people in our lives.  This is a hard task, especially for men and women who are looking for encouragement themselves.  Especially for broken people who could use some words of refreshment in their own lives.  In a sense, we are all broken people in need of healing words.  

But the beauty of our Lord is that He never gives us a command that He will not enable us to fulfill.  According to Proverbs 11:25   promises us that when you take the time to refresh those around you, God will bring you the refreshment that you also so desperately need.  You can count on that. 

Thirdly, in taking a look at this challenging verse we come to the last facet of our interactions with others: but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  

In my opinion, this is the hardest part.  In order to speak helpful words into the lives of the people around us, words that will build them up according to their needs- we must KNOW their needs.  We must develop an acute awareness of the deep seated needs of the people around us.  We must take the time to put ourselves on the back burner, and allow the needs of others to make their way forward. 

This takes a deliberate sensitivity.  This takes opening ourselves up to others in a way that goes beyond the superficial and into the realms of the supernatural.  This takes silencing the noise of our own selfish needs for just one moment in an attempt to identify the true needs of those around us:  Needs for love and affirmation, needs for value and self-worth, needs for encouragement and affection, needs for acknowledgment and recognition. 

May we be a people who are KNOWN by our words...words that build up, encourage, and empower the hearts of those around us. Amen.    


  1. Thanks for the compilation of thoughts and words, Deb. This is something my husband and I are always talking about and striving to do 'better with'. It's one of the things I most admire about him; his ability to encourage and lead people through his words and charisma.
    It's also one of his strengths that I struggle with, as he takes my words very literally. But, it makes me choose them more carefully and, in turn, be a better person.
    Timing in my life was just right to absorb these words of reflection and wisdom.
    Lisa 'Bross' Martin

  2. Lisa, thanks for reading! Your thoughts are so sincere and genuine, I really appreciate you sharing your perspective. Your husband sounds like a great man that we could all learn from :) It's such a challenge to speak in love, and you know, with our spouses that interact with every day it's so easy to pass by this verse and not think much of it. God intends for us to build each other up....especially in our own homes. Thank you for your thoughts on that and for your honesty! I'm so glad you were encouraged by this post.

  3. I could definitely say the same about me. I could've read this a thousand times yet have not really stopped and looked into it, so thank for bringing this into sight! :) I hope God continues to use you not only to share with us but to bless as well.

    Thank You and God Bless!

    BTW I just read a response to a comment I left on another post. And first I want to say THANK YOU for writing these thoughts and reflections they are truly a blessing.

    And you had asked how I had come upon this blog and I actually found out about it on twitter by a Barlow family member (from the band BarlowGirl) she had tweeted about how great she thought this was, so I thought I'd read it and she was absolutely right!

  4. Vanessa, I'm so glad you are encouraged by it...that really inspires me to keep writing and allowing God to lead me in this area. Thanks so much for being a reader and feel free to pass the blog along to anyone you think would be blessed by it.

  5. Debra,
    I just stumbled across your blog this morning. This is such a true and thought provoking post. Something I definitely need to work. I have a sister who is such an encourager. She definitely have the gift for that but God has called us believers to be instruments of encouragement and we're unable to do so when we are consumed with ourselves.

  6. Wanda, thank you for your kind words, I am so glad you stumbled upon my blog:) It's such a hard thing to remain encouraging, but what a challenge. It's definitely made me catch myself a whole lot more....but you are right, it's a difficult task when we're consumed with ourselves. What a challenge to adjust our focus. Thank you for your thoughts and for reading!!


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