The Power of Encouraging Words

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. – Proverbs 14:1

The wind whips my face as we traverse along our street, flurries of snow swirling all around us. We are a funny scene, really. A mom covered all in fur and boots and gloves, each child dressed and ready to play in the snowstorm that refuses to grace our county this winter.

My baby boy toddles behind, looking adorable in his puffy coat and hat, his baby gloves dangling from his arms. We trudge past every house on our block, exploring swings and watching pinwheels in yards blow, baby boy becoming enthralled with our neighbor’s little dog and chasing it around their yard.

Why are we doing this? Every mother will understand the simplicity of my answer: We must get out of the house. It is necessary for every one of us to thrive.

In spite of the cold, the wind seems to enliven each child, resulting in running, laughing, happy children, which in turn makes me happy.

We enter the warmth and familiarity of our home, cheeks cold and rosy from the outdoor play. I look long around this place I love and the people who fill it every day. And I think about what it means to build a home.

The Gift of Our Words

My husband and I are regularly reminded of the joys and trials of being homeowners. Clogged drains and a broken hand rail currently cry for our attention, which we will heed and fix. But building up my home is not just about maintenance of utilities or even interior decoration (which I stink at anyways, to be honest).

What does it really look like practically to be wise women who build up our houses?

I have found one answer to that question in Ephesians 4:29: “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.

A friend of mine once gave me this beautiful analogy: we mothers set the “thermostat” for our homes. When we are a pleasant and comfortable 68 degrees, everyone feels it and responds accordingly. When we are a frigid 50 or a suffocating 85, everyone feels that as well.

This truth has stuck with me over the years. When my attitude stinks and I’m snapping on children left and right, no one is happy. No one is able to thrive. When my words are overly critical, dejection hangs tangibly from shoulders and tears can come rolling down from their faces.

Another horrible thing happens on those occasions. I hear them imitating me. You know, snapping on each other, criticizing and hurting each other with their words, because that is what they have observed and learned through me in that moment.

We have all been there: wincing when you hear your child saying or doing something you know you taught them by your example that you would love to take back.

We have also seen the impact when we speak an encouraging word to our child that causes them to bloom with hope or joy before our eyes.

Ephesians 4:29 contains one of the most important directives I want to use to build up my home. Because building up my home really means building up and encouraging the people who live with me.

Helpful Questions for Building Hearts

1. Do my words have a corrupting influence (rotten, of poor quality, worthless, tearing down) or an edifying one (the Greek word here literally means the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, happiness, and holiness)?

2. Are my words suited to fit the occasion (are they necessary?) and do they give grace (that which affords joy, pleasure, and loveliness) to those who hear them?

Let’s not be afraid to ask ourselves these hard questions first of ourselves and then of our children, trusting that our whole house will grow stronger as each individual within it is built up and strengthened in their faith and character.

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