An Encouraging Word - 3

Robert Fulghum, in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, tells a story of the Solomon Islanders.

Some of the villagers practice a unique form of logging. If a tree is too large to be felled with an ax, the natives cut it down by yelling at it.

Woodsmen with special powers creep up on a tree just at dawn and suddenly scream at it at the top of their lungs. They continue this for thirty days. The tree dies and falls over. The theory is that the hollering kills the spirit of the tree. According to the villagers, it always works.

Those poor naïve people. Screaming at trees. Too bad they don’t have the advantages of modern technology and science. I don’t yell at trees. I may yell at televisions, cars, drivers of other cars, my wife, and my children.

I even shake my fist and yell at God sometimes. I have heard people, educated people yet at umpires, officials, coaches, and players and they are not even at the game. People yell at step ladders, televisions, computers, and machines. Especially machines.

Machines and family get most of the yelling.

What good does it do? Machines and things just sit there. Even hitting and kicking them doesn’t help.

As for people, the Solomon Islanders might have a point. Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. You remember the words, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words – they break my heart.”*

Is that why Paul wrote, “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.”? (Today’s English Version)

You don’t even have to yell. All you have to do is speak.

In her book, The Cracker Factory, Joyce Rebeta-Buritt, tells of a woman by the name of Cassie. She drinks too much and is hospitalized for emotional distress. She writes a letter to her brother, Bob.

This is part of what she writes:

“It’s been one hell of a year. I’ve been running around half crazy, trying to remember whatever it is Alexander (her psychiatrist) said I learned in the hospital the last time. Bob, I don’t even know. I just know that I’m coming unraveled and can’t seem to stop it. It’s been a whole year of Charles’ (her husband) running off and slamming doors when I need him. I tell him I’m sick and he says, “You’re telling me? I’m sick of your sickness.” And…bam…out the door.

He looked at me one night and said, “Cassie, you’re a loser.” Bob when I stand on Judgment Day to hear myself condemned to hell, it will be no more devastating and irrevocable than Charlie’s “You’re a loser.” Forever defective. Forever doomed. No hope at all.”

Words are powerful.

Is that why Paul wrote, “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.”? (Today’s English Version)

You have many opportunities today to do good simply by the words you speak. What powerful, helpful, good word will you speak today that will build up the person who receives it?

-by Tim Bias

Read more from Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Read an Encouraging Word – Part 1 

Read an Encouraging Word – Part 2

*Story adapted from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum.

**Story adapted from The Cracker Factory, by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt.

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