- Containing nothing; not filled or occupied.
- How Tammie was feeling last Sunday.
It had been a long week. My ER shifts had were jam-packed. Spring fever was turning my household into a pinball machine. I was smarting from a couple of draining emails that had floated in my direction. And I had to finalize the details for a women’s dinner my friends and I were planning as a way for women of our church to connect and fellowship.
Fatigue allowed doubt and insecurity to seep into my veins. I had myself convinced that my friends were annoyed with me for planning this meal and dragging them into it. I was feeling like a nuisance. A busy body. A bossy pants. No one had accused me of anything like that. But my mindset hadn’t bothered to consult reality on the matter. The truth was, we all wanted to hold the dinner and my friends were excited about it. But in my mind I was putting them out as I sat down with them to finalize our plan.
I handed over the detailed lists I had made of the food and decoration ideas. As I glanced down at the paper it seemed to confirm everything I was believing about myself. Tears streamed down my cheeks yet I fought to hold it together since the last thing I wanted was to draw attention to the fact that I was losing my marbles.
My friends stared at me in stunned silence. They know me well enough to know I am not one to get emotional over a taco bar grocery list – no matter how beautifully thorough and organized it is. Sensing my attempts to keep it together in the busy church foyer, they just started making decisions about who would shred chicken and who was bringing the lime rice while I collected myself.
Later I sat in the sanctuary silently praying. I let God know I needed a little boost because I was feeling absolutely ridiculous. Just then I received an unexpected text from my mentor. It was a brief little word of encouragement. Out of the blue. Right when I needed it. And my spirits were lifted.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25
We tell each other that we should seek affirmation from God alone. That man’s empty praise will not fill us. And that is truth. Our approval need only come from God, himself.
But here is another truth. God tells us to encourage one another. Multiple times in scripture. Unfortunately we tend to downplay our need to hear affirmation from man as frivolous and unnecessary. But the way I see it, if God took the time to tell us in His word to encourage each other, then it stands to reason that need to hear affirming and encouraging words. From people.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Too often our culture settles for alternatives to encouragement. We offer advice. We congratulate one another. We give compliments. We express gratitude. There is nothing wrong with any of those. But true encouragement is something different.
The definition of encourage is to give support, confidence, or hope to someone. Look closely at each of those components:
- support: to sustain (a person, the mind, spirits, courage, etc.) under trial or affliction
- confidence: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing
- hope: the feeling that events will turn out for the best
Encouragement requires intention. Insight. Thoughtful word choice.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11
In Ephesians 4:29 we are instructed to let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths and only use words good for building up, fits the occasion, and gives grace to the hearer. That is a tall order. How often do we take the time to carefully choose the words we use in every occasion? And yet, its amazing it is how wisely selected, true, specific and encouraging words can turn someone’s day around.
Encouraging words can be life giving. Grace giving. So why squander them or only offer them sparingly?
What a breath of fresh air we can be in each other’s lives if we become intentional about speaking words that support, build confidence, and remind each other that we have the greatest hope in the world.
Who in your life might need some encouragement today?