March 10, 2011 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Encouragement | Speech
“Who needs a book about affirming others? For starters, I do—and I suspect you do too. Too many of us use most of our words each day for criticizing and complaining. My friend Sam Crabtree, on the other hand, is a practitioner of affirmation. To meet him is to be encouraged. His words, both in person and in these pages, are thoughtful, intentional, and full of gratefulness. If you find that your communication lacks encouragement, if you want to grow in affirming others, if you plan to say any words at all today—please read this book!”
-C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries
Christmas provides a wonderful opportunity to give gifts to those I love. I enjoy doing all I can to surprise them with a particular gift. I am sure you do as well.
But here’s what I’ve come to realize: too often I can put more thought into the gifts I buy them than I do the content of my conversations with them at Christmas. In fact the content of my conversation can be a gift of greater substance and of more enduring value.
By using words that are carefully and skillfully chosen, we can give the gift of grace to others. And Christmas provides us with many opportunities for conversations with a variety of friends and family. But are you prepared?
The Apostle Paul writes, “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
This promise is stunning! By carefully choosing my words I can give grace to those I care for.
Yet as Charles Spurgeon once noted in a sermon, “I consider that one of the great lacks of the Church nowadays is not so much Christian preaching as Christian talking.” In fact, a preacher may invest more time in carefully thinking about the words he will use in one sermon than most of us will invest thinking about the words that will come from our lips all year.
And the result is that we often waste our words. Corrupt talk is a daily temptation. Rarely do we consider the decay that we spread through our speech. And rarely do we consider the grace-giving potential of our speech. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
So what words fit a particular occasion? Consideration for one we are conversing with must inform our words. So before I speak I must observe and listen. I must ask questions. I must take an interest in them.
- If they are Christians, are there evidences of grace I can draw their attention to?
- If they are not Christians, are there evidences of common grace in their life?
- Is this person experiencing prosperity?
- Or is this person experiencing adversity?
- If they are suffering I want to give them comforting grace through my words.
- If they are weary, I want to give them sustaining grace through my words.
- And to all, when and where appropriate, I want to share the gospel, for that is the most effective way to give grace through my words.
So here is my point. Buying the appropriate Christmas gift for someone requires that we know and study them. But this is no less true of our conversations.
So as you consider certain individuals, and seek to buy meaningful gifts for them, also consider how you can give them grace through your words.