Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 1.22.14 – Do Our Words Build or Destroy?

Sounds like a difficult title, but as I think about it, there isn’t much difference with what our words can do.

They can put us or others on a path to building, or they can represent destroying. Here are four examples that will challenge how you use your words. I’ll let the obvious trash talking or gossip stand on its own as destroying type behavior. Let’s look at a few others, both negative and positive, that might be worthy of attention.

Example #1: The “prayer” request

Could a prayer request destroy someone? Why, yes indeed. Some will pass “prayer requests” that are really more intended to spread disagreement over what someone is doing.  Oh, we should pray for so and so, they’ve really gone off track. If it makes you feel better to say they’ve gone off the track than it does to say you are praying for them, then your words are destroying that person.

Example #2: False encouragement

Have you ever had anyone come up to you and encourage you, then tell you they have concerns? If this has happened to you, you wonder if they ever meant to encourage you in the first place? It’s like someone giving you a $10 gift card to Subway then guilting you out of it because they’re hungry. Some gift, right?

If the purpose is to share the concern, then the words someone was wanting to hear as encouragement actually are destroyed because of the confusion that’s created.

Example #3: Well placed concern

Sometimes we talk over concerns.  I recently had a conversation about a tragedy that occurred in our neighboring community of Barberton. It wasn’t one of those conversations just to gripe about how bad everything is. Truly, at the end of the conversation I knew better how to pray for several people involved and even had made a contact to see if someone I knew could help.

In this example, there is no gossip or aimless head-shaking. There is encouragement, an exchange of truth, and a better idea of how to pray for the situation and those affected.

Example #4: Direct building

I mention this because it is one of the most rare and difficult. We are taught in Hebrews 3:13 to encourage one another daily.  In my experience it is a rare thing for someone to go out of their way to say positive things to people. I would challenge you to think about how often you are able to encourage people directly. And if it’s not enough, simply start.

Here are a few ideas to practice direct building. Simply tell someone (appropriately of course) you like their recent hair cut or something they’re wearing. If you have ongoing family or ministry relationships with people, try to point out ways people contribute and tell them specific things they did to make it better.  If you know someone’s been working on a problem, encourage them when you see growth. Encourage spiritual growth or increased commitment.

Think. Are you moving in a direction with your words where they are building? Or, is destroying more the result of the things you say?

Act. It’s important to point out that no one is perfect in this area. And if you’re like me at times, you feel like perfect is on another continent and you have to swim to get there. Acknowledge your failures and take them to God. Jesus died for our forgiveness so it’s important to remember mis-using our words isn’t just a “character flaw” – it’s a sin. Be sure to apologize to anyone you’ve hurt with your words and ask God to give you awareness of the things you’re saying. Finally, commit to take destroying conversations in a building direction!

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