January 19 I Thursday
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” —Ephesians 4:29
Whether or not we are aware, there is power behind our words spoken about people. These words have the power of death and life. Some of the words that we say about people are in the form of gossip. Even within our churches, some of us gossip in the form of asking for prayer. We may say, “Can I share in confidence with you for prayer? Mrs. Jones has run off with Mr. Smith!” And the person listening would typically respond, “Oh my! Tell me the details so that I can pray intelligently about this.” Even if the prayer request is given with good intentions, this is gossip.
Proverbs 16:28 tells us, “…a gossip separates close friends.” And we are given a warning, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19). From these two proverbs, we find that gossip separates and betrays—take note that the descriptive words are negative. Whenever we engage in gossip, remember this: it is destructive and can destroy people’s reputation because we are exercising a sword that has the power of death.
Yet, our words spoken about people can have the power of life as well, as Proverbs 16:24 reveals, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Encouraging words are a healing balm to all of us.
In the fall, we will notice many of our Canadian geese getting ready to migrate south for the winter. They fly in a V formation, which is fairly smart because it requires about 71% less energy from each bird, compared to flying solo. It is an efficient way to fly. Especially since breaking the wind barrier is a tough job for the one out front, they rotate leadership. If we are lucky when we happen to watch a V formation flying by sometime, we will catch the switch of leader, where one bird falls back into the V line and another bird will pull up to take the lead. During the entire duration of their flight, apart from the lead bird, all the birds behind are honking their affirmation and encouragement. We know Canadian geese are above us because it sounds like an orchestra flying over. It is a beautiful sound as we can imagine these birds cheering the lead bird on by saying, “We’re right behind you!”
The words that we speak about people are powerful. May we take a lesson from the Canadian geese when they are flying together and encourage everyone as we honk along in the journey of life.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for all those times when I gossiped about others. Help me to speak words of affirmation and encouragement that build others up and give them life. Thank You, Father.