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February 10, 2023

Dr. Paul Cannings

There was a certain woman who liked going to a particular post office to buy stamps because the postal workers were always so friendly to her. At Christmas time, when the post office was full of people waiting to mail packages, someone explained to her that she did not have to wait in line for stamps because there was a machine that sold stamps. “But,” she said sweetly as she remained in line, “the ma-chine doesn’t ask me about my arthritis.”

Brooks Hays told a story about a boy who was the largest in his class. Unfortunately, he also had the lowest I.Q. One day, when there were visitors in the class, the teacher said, “Otto, will you please raise the window?” As he went to do her bidding, she exclaimed, “I don’t know what I’d do with-out Otto. He’s the only boy in the class strong enough to raise that window.” Later, she confided to the visitors, “The window didn’t need to be raised, but Otto needed to be recognized.” (Cranford, Clarence W.: Cups of Light : And Other Illustrations. Willow Grove, PA : Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1988)

When God directed the writing of His Word through the Holy Spirit, He said He did it for our encouragement. “For whatever was written for our instruction, so that through perse-verance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) The gift of encouragement was provided to many believers because God knew that the last days would be very difficult (Matthew 24; John 16:33). Believers need this even for their spiritual growth; “But encourage one another day after day, …so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13) We need to learn to control our tongue so that we use it for the edification of God’s people. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29; NASU) It is important to note that Christ says that each believer must give an account for every useless word (Matthew 12:36). So, God obviously takes this very seriously.

It is not easy to control the tongue (James 3:1-12), but if we practice using the tongue wisely, it can be a blessing to our lives (James 3:2) and to those around us (James 1:26). Paul did not want to come to Corinth because he was afraid that he would find believers gossiping and slandering each other (2 Corinthians 12:20). The tongue can create a lot of damage, or with practice, it can powerfully encourage someone to make it through anoth-er day. This is important when we assemble together. “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25; NASU)

Take a few moments to reach out to someone and encourage them. They may not say the right word in return or even accept what you say, but all it takes is one person to exercise their gift for the Holy Spirit to change one life one step at a time. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-19)