“Stupid” This is what a cashier said to me when I did not understand her. I had just arrived in the US and my English was not good enough. An American lady who was helping me with my English became very upset with the cashier’s attitude. I did not understand what she said to me, so it did not hurt me. Ignorance is bliss. It hurt later when I realized that the cashier did not know me enough to say something like that. Words can hurt, no matter if you understand them well or not.
Some of us have heard hurtful words like this, and some of us, unfortunately have said something like this:
“I’m not going to waste my time talking to you.”
“Nobody would be dumb enough to believe that.”
Or using sarcasm, “I’ll listen to you because you’re the expert on this topic, right?”
“You’re a failure,” or “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
“Why are you behaving like a child?” or “You don’t even know what’s right, do you?”
“I don’t care what you do anymore,” or “I don’t need you.”
“I never want to see you again,” or “You are no longer welcome here.”
Those words have the ability to disregard a person, demean or devalue someone. We are watching friendships and families being ruined by words such as these. I know that we cannot control what people say, but we should and we must control what we say.
The Bible is clear when it tells us that words can destroy and build up. Here are two texts that emphasize this: “Prov. 12:18Recklesswords pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. AndProv. 16:24Pleasantwordsare a honeycomb, sweet to the soul andhealingto the bones.”
In the New Testament we find the apostle Paul writing to the churches and asking them to use their words to build up other people, and not only that, he also asks them to encourage other people to do that. Here are a few texts that help us with that: “1Th. 5:11Therefore encourage one another andbuildeach otherup, just as in fact you are doing.”And “Eph. 4:29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful forbuildingothers up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”Paul goes further when he wrote that even when we have to say the truth we should do it in love, “Eph. 4:15Instead, speaking thetruthinlove.”
The expression build up means: “to edify, strengthen, develop another person’s life through acts and words of love and encouragement”. We build up someone when we say nice things. If you do not have something nice to say, do not say it. We build up when we say something helpful, when we are part of the solution and not part of the problem. We build up when we comfort someone who is going through a tough situation, or is experiencing a bitter season. We build up when we offer our knowledge to teach someone and help him or her to discover tools that will make him or her grow. We build up people when we share our experience, helping them to know that they are not the only ones who are facing that situation.
My friend, you can do that. With just a few words, you can help and edify someone. You can make a big difference in their lives.
Have a blessed week,