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South Texas Living

Speak words of encouragement instead of disparaging words

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April 20, 2016 | 1,397 views | Post a comment

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods when two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the mouth of the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was they told the unfortunate frogs they would never get out. The two frogs in the pit ignored their comments and tried to jump out of the pit anyway. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up, fell down, and died. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and suffering and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out of the pit. After he got out, the other frogs asked him, “Why did you continue jumping? Didn’t you hear us?” The frog explained to them he was hard of hearing. He thought they were encouraging him to try harder the entire time, so he did.

I’ve been having some well-overdue maintenance done on my house that I simply can’t do by myself. I had it re-leveled and some insulation installed under the flooring. One of the workers pushed on a waterline hoping to get it into a better position, enabling a more secure fastening of some of that insulation. You guessed it, the line broke! The crew rushed around and got the water shut off before too much got into the house avoiding damage. I got the phone call and went to the house immediately to see what, if anything, I could do to help remedy the situation. Of course, the fellow that broke the line was all apologetic and worried I was going to have a big problem with the accident. I reassured him I wasn’t angry with him, just that we needed to get a good fix performed. Actually, I told him I considered the broken line a blessing, to which he gave me a questioned look. I explained to him I was more comfortable with the broken waterline at eleven in the morning with everyone around than I would have been if he had only put the line in a bind where it broke at two in the morning while I was sleeping and possibly flooding the whole house. Ironically, while the plumber was fixing one waterline, the line next to it, also in a bind, snapped, heightening the blessed moment. Thank God a disaster was avoided and I know He is still watching over me.

[James 3:1-12] “The tongue has the power of life and death ...” (Proverbs 18:21). An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day. “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them” (Proverbs 12:6).

A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them. We need to be careful of what we say. Speak life to those who cross your daily path. The power of words -- it’s sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way in someone’s life. On the other hand, anyone can speak words, without intent, that can rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times. Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another. We desperately need these kinds of individuals in the world and in the church of our Lord today. We need more Christians like Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement” -- Acts 4:36) to help build up and encourage others in the work of the Lord’s church, which always strengthens the surrounding community.

I’m still learning how and when to keep my mouth shut, but I pray I will speak words of encouragement instead of disparaging words.

Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at Find his column on his blog at

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