Encouragement vs Discouragement

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
Encouragement is defined as an expression of support or approval, or is words or actions that assist or inspire someone or something. Discouragement is to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence by word or deed. It can also mean to dishearten; dispirit, to dissuade (usually followed by from) or to obstruct by opposition or difficulty and hinder:

These are pretty common definitions combined from several sources concerning words we often use or hear. We all need encouragement from time to time, and I trust we all have a desire to offer encouragement to others we meet along life’s path. I honestly do not think we give enough thought to the weight of our words on others.

And, in the day and age in which we live, I have reason to wonder how many people allow words to pass through their lips that affect others negatively or cause actual discouragement for undetermined amounts of time.

I have heard three messages, and read others, in the past three days that led me to those thoughts. One was a wonderful message on biblical hope shared by Dr. Dino Pedrone, former pastor of Church of the Open Door in Chambersburg, PA. The message was inspiring and certainly encouraged the hearers. One of the points that caught my attention was that while we have hope in our hearts, we should expect to wait patiently on God to bring the hope to pass in our lives.

A second lesson taught by my Sunday school teacher, Dr. Harry Mills, honed in on our language and how the words we speak and our total communication affects those with whom we share. There is often a right way and a wrong way to speak to others as we attempt to convey our thoughts and ideas to them. Does our very manner of addressing another person turn them off and place a stumbling block directly in their path so they have disdain for our message and our cause?

In this class we are carefully studying Psalm 139 and learning just how much God knows about us, our thoughts, our actions, our good and bad language, and the fact that he is always with us. He observes and knows everything about us all the time. This truth can feel a bit overwhelming as we comprehend and grasp its true meaning. We should become more conscious of the importance of our thoughts and communications with other human beings.

The book of James in Scripture has much to teach about the fiery little member of our body -The tongue. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set in fire of hell.” (James 3:6) Verse 8 adds, “But the tongue can no man tame. It is an unruly evil, full of poison.”

The tongue unleashed and unchecked can cause great discouragement to both its owner and to others. We must continually work at taming the tongue and not allowing unhealthy thoughts to become unhealthy and deadly words. Do we really realize what damage can be done by lashing out at someone else and heaping mounds of discouragement upon them?

We must think before we speak. We must cradle in our hearts, where our thoughts feed on whatever we have stored there, good and helpful words that bring happiness and encouragement to others. God help us to practice kindness and an encouraging spirit in our lives. It can be so important to those we love most, people with which we work, leaders, neighbors, and friends.

And, it is important to our own happiness and peace. Discerning what to say and when to say it is a huge part of growing up and maturing as a Christian man or woman. Have we uttered or even screamed words this very week that have been ill advised and hurtful? Do we wish we could take them back? Did our words discourage someone? Our realization of these facts can be used to motivate us to check the gateway of our mouths and become an encourager rather than a discourager.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at 409 781 8788, or
[email protected]


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