“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Let’s Make a Home … on the Range!,
by Randall D. Kittle

The old western ballad Home on the Range paints the picture of a tranquil setting where all is at peace. According to the song, the range is a place, “where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.” What a warm and relaxing picture this song portrays … a setting filled with bright skies and nearly void of discouraging words.

While that might sound too good to be true, it is an accurate depiction of how the Church is supposed to be … at least according to the Scriptures. Now before you think I’m merely a wide-eyed optimist expressing some fanciful dream, let me assure you that I know we will hear plenty of discouraging words in this world. Even as born-again believers we can’t expect our lives to be totally free of discouraging words. After all, some discouraging news is useful and necessary. The doctor may tell us we have a certain condition, but of course we need to hear about it in order to seek proper care. The auto mechanic may give us a bad report about our car. That too, is unfortunately necessary so the car can be repaired. At times we all need to hear constructive correction intended to get us back on the right track and help us become more Christ-like.

Unfortunately, we also experience discouraging words that are unnecessary. Many people give criticizing comments with the primary purpose of tearing others down rather than building them up. Some make sarcastic slights designed to lift themselves up by putting others down. Still others speak authoritarian commands intended to suppress and control those around them. All of these hurtful words are spoken by those who do not understand the power of their tongues and the cutting results they can produce. They have never learned the truth of Proverbs 12:18,
“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.”

While there is no denying that unnecessary discouraging words happen, the family of God is no place for these kinds of verbal putdowns, sarcastic jabs, critical comments, and harsh judgments. Yet to be honest, all of us have been guilty of this to some extent, if not now certainly in the past. Perhaps this is because we, too, fail to comprehend the power of our words.

You and I were created in the very image of God, in His likeness, and look at the power of God’s words. He spoke and all creation came into being. Not only did His words create all things, He is now
“… sustaining all things by His powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). The words God speaks are powerful and productive. As He testified about them in Isaiah 55:11, “My word that comes forth from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

As the sons and daughters of God, made in His very image, our words are also more powerful than we believe. Proverbs 18:21 declares,
“Life and death are in the power of the tongue …” Our words can bring life or convey death … build up or tear down … strengthen or undermine … bless or curse … encourage or discourage. When we speak discouraging words instead of encouragement — hope is lost, vision fades, strength fails, and others are more likely to shrink back than press forward.

So let’s choose to put away words that are harsh, cutting, and belittling, and instead choose to speak words of life. Although encouragement has been seen in most churches as little more than a trivial pursuit, it is a vitally important ministry that is far more important and productive than most of us realize. How needful the Church is for a spiritual transfusion of encouragement, so that we will be able to stand against the schemes of the enemy and do exploits instead of merely trying to hang on. If we will allow the Lord to tame our tongues, He will use them to bring sparks of encouragement that will ignite the Church and advance His kingdom.

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