– George Herbert
Perfectly Timed Words
Sometimes it’s better to not say anything than to say something we’ll regret. We need to listen to Solomon’s wisdom where he wrote, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11), and “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24). Good words can actually be beneficial to one’s own health. Positive, uplifting words have been shown to improve the immune system and physiological and emotional health, but this was something Solomon wrote long before the first waiting room was ever built.
The Bible teaches that God is the One “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). In other words, in the same way that God has comforted us in our times of affliction, we too should comfort others with the very same comfort that God brought to us. There’s no need to reinvent comfort–just duplicate what God has done for us in comforting others. “Com” means “with,” and “fort” means strength. Just as we need God’s strength, we can strengthen others by our words of encouragement.
The word “encourage” literally means to “enable courage” or to “give courage,” which might mean encouraging someone who is going through discouragement (or a loss of courage). God can and will use us if we will just let Him. Paul told the church at Thessalonica to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and to “encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). We can either build up or tear down–we all know which God prefers.
Danger of Words
There is much good that can come from the words of others and the words you say to others, but there is also the danger that “in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” (2 Peter 2:3). So we must “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). Paul’s suggestion is “if anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness” (1 Timothy 6:3), then be aware of the danger because if it’s not “the” Gospel, it’s another gospel, which is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:7-9), except it be Satan’s gospel, but that only leads people to hell.
Mr. Herbert is correct by saying that “good words are worth much, and cost little” since they can make a healthier, happier human being, they can bring us comfort so that we can do the same for others, and they can build up the Body of Christ rather than tearing it down. When we know the Word of God, we’ll more easily recognize “false words,” which “does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ.”