Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 2 of “Fan or Follower – Value Life” (LISTEN HERE).
While I can’t remember the specifics, I remember hearing a story of an individual that was planning to commit suicide on a particular day. As he was on the way to end his life, he encountered an individual who asked, “Hi! How are you?” The pause in answering led the person to follow up with, “Are you ok?” The floodgates opened and to a complete stranger, the individual spilled his challenges. For the one ready to end his life, someone who paused to notice, care, and listen saved his life.
Sometimes the simple things we say and the pauses in our life to care for someone are a tremendous way to both express and show that we value the lives of the people around us.
In gradeschool we had a saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” I’ve learned there is nothing further from the truth. Words hurt…a long time…for a lifetime. What people say about us or to us can either lead us to value life more or value it less. The converse is true too. What we say either indicates that we value the person to whom we are speaking to or devaluing the life of the person.
Words matter. Care matters.
God’s Word guides us to value lives around us with the way we talk and interact with people. Consider Ephesians 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
When we see one another as part of our own body, it seems silly to tear down and degrade a part of our own body. We wouldn’t do that. So, the Spirit of God encourages us to speak truthfully to each other in love, as we would want to be spoken to ourselves.
Words are meant to build up and encourage people. Ephesians 4:29b says “[speak] only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. The words we speak as parents to our children, bosses to our employees, teachers to students, friends to friends, or stranger to stranger all will either value that life and bring encouragement or devalue that life and discourage them. The advice your mother gave you works too, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”
Words have power. Use them to express your value of life. Use them to encourage, build up and affirm the value of the person to whom you are talking.
Consider these thoughts from a blog written by Savannah Lindell from James River Church in Missouri (no affiliation to our church – but the blog post was pertinent)*
Over the years psychologists have studied words and found that they have a profound effect on the human brain. The truth is, words have power. Words can either breath life or death into the soul, build up someone’s spirit or tear it down. They either encourage or discourage – there is no middle ground.
Research has proven that brain function is at its best and quality of life is at its peak when we are processing positive rather than negative words.
In their article, The Most Dangerous Word in the World, researchers Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Waldman state the following:
“If I were to put you into an fMRI scanner – a huge donut-shaped magnet that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain – and flash the word “NO” for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.”
Additional research done by Newberg and Waldman reveals,
“Positive words, such as “peace” and “love” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. They propel the motivational centers of the brain into action…”
Positive words are difficult to remember. Negative words are difficult to forget.
It’s interesting to note that the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC includes a display of several articles President Abraham Lincoln had with him on the night of his assassinated. One of the articles is a worn-out newspaper clipping which celebrated his accomplishments as president. It reads: “Abe Lincoln is one of the greatest statesmen of all time.”
It is amazing that even the president of the United States needed regular positive reinforcement in his life, if left unchallenged, negativity can permeate and overcome any of us.
The truth is that if you’re living and breathing, you need encouragement! No matter a person’s age, position or stature, as human beings, we are wired with the innate desire and need for encouragement.
An encouraging word spoken at the right time can make all the difference in a person life – just like it did for President Lincoln.
Proverbs 25:11(CEV) says: “The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver.”
Value life with your actions AND your words!
Apply: It’s Friday – everyone needs encouragement on Friday. Engage in random words of encouragement to someone today!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for valuing our life with yours. Grow us to value the lives of people around us in how we treat them and how we speak to them. AMEN.