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James 3:1 – Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (NIV)
Hebrews 3:13 – But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (NIV)
"Miss Fannie always thought I was special," said Jane, as we reminisced about our childhood experiences. "It didn't matter whether others thought so or not. That she thought I was special made a big difference in my life."
Jane also spoke of another person from her childhood who had told her she was not college material. That had coloured her life and kept her from pursuing higher education. "I realize now," said Jane, "that she was wrong, but the damage had been done."
The Bible warns in several places about the harm words can do. The power of the spoken word can build up or tear down. Many who believe they are speaking the truth inflict wounds on others that take a lifetime to heal.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to encourage and build each other up for the sake of the individual and for the sake of the church. Leaders and teachers have tremendous power as role models over those whom they instruct or serve. Words should be chosen carefully and left open-ended, especially if we have to be judgmental in the things we say. An unkind or thoughtless word, as well as the encouraging word, has the influence to change others' lives forever.
We all have our careless moments when we fail to express ourselves in a Christ-like way. Our daily prayer should be that we would use our words to build others up rather than tear them down.
Prayer: Lord, remind us daily how powerful words are. Help us to use them to encourage others rather than to inflict wounds that are slow to heal. Amen.
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