It’s Not About the Nail

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” (Proverbs 12:25, NIV)

Do you ever have anxiety? Who doesn’t?!? Chances are there is something worrying you right now, and if there isn’t (praise God!), there probably will be before too long. I have several things keeping me awake at night, ranging from family concerns to decisions that need to be made at the church, and everything in between. As silly as it sounds, one of my biggest sources of anxiety is managing my calendar! Because of my introverted, creative-thinking, absent-minded personality, I easily get so focused on one thing I entirely forget something else I need to do… unless it’s on my calendar. So, making sure it gets on my calendar is something I worry about.

When I see someone else struggling with anxiety, my default response is usually, “Let me help you fix that.” But sometimes that’s not really what they need. As the husband in the video below discovers, sometimes people don’t need a solution–they need a kind word. It’s so much easier sometimes to brainstorm ideas to fix the problem than it is to listen, relate, and say something encouraging. God challenged me with this verse in Proverbs to do less fixing and show more kindness with my words.

My prayer for the week is that you will find an opportunity to cheer someone’s heart through a kind word.


I hope you enjoy this funny little video that reminds us that sometimes we just need to listen and encourage.

Don’t Be a Gossip

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (Proverbs 11:13, NIV)

Gossip is a sneaky sin, and I don’t think anyone of us is immune to it! Christians are often quick to point out the obvious, flagrant sins in others–pornography, adultery, addiction, etc. Yet, in my experience gossip is one of the most prevalent and widespread sins in the church. In fact, I’ve seen gossip more often in churches than in the world. For some reason, we overlook this dangerous sin in our midst that wreaks havoc and devastation everywhere it exists. We are experts at disguising gossip, at putting lipstick on this pig that invades our lives.

One very common (so common that it’s become the subject of many jokes) form of Christian gossip is prayer requests. “Pray for Susie. Her husband’s being a huge jerk right now. Their marriage is in really bad shape.”

Or it may be offered in the guise of a friendly warning. “Hey, I heard you went out for coffee with Bill. That’s great you’re getting to know him! I just want you to know that his marriage ended because of infidelity. Not that you shouldn’t spend time with him, just go in with your eyes open.”

Gossip is often shared in the context of asking for advice. “Hey, Bill and Susie are struggling with their marriage after Bill almost cheated on her. I really want to help them work through this issue, but I’m not sure what to tell them. Do you have any advice for me?”

In the church, there are structures in place to give us safe people to confide in, ask for prayer, and get advice. These safe people are the elders and pastors. They are spiritually mature leaders who have met the qualifications in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:2-4. They don’t break confidence but are trustworthy with sensitive information. Their role is to shepherd, pray for, and give wise counsel to those in need.

We should be very careful what we share, when we share it, and with whom. I’ve found Andy Stanley’s definition of gossip to be very helpful in guiding my own conversations over the years.

Gossip is sharing sensitive information with someone who is not part of the problem or the solution.

No matter how good our intentions are, we can fall prey to gossip if we don’t intentionally guard our mouths. My prayer for the week is that the Holy Spirit will nudge you when you’re about to share sensitive information with someone who isn’t part of the problem or the solution, and you’ll realize the sneakiness of this sin which infects us so subtly.

How You Use Your Mouth

“You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit.” (Psalm 50:19, NIV).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

Words are powerful. They can be used to bless or curse. They can be used to worship or blaspheme. We can speak truth or lies. We can use words to build someone up or entirely destroy their lives. They can express love or hate. There’s almost no limit to what words can accomplish.

Yet, how often do we think before we speak? How often do we pause to consider the power of our words and the impact of what we’re about to say? Or do we let our words flow unfiltered, heedless of the devasting effect they often have? Are we quick to throw our opinions around without reflecting on whether it’s beneficial or discouraging to the person with whom we’re sharing? Do we stop and think about that joke we’re getting ready to tell, whether it’s appropriate for a mouth that belongs to Jesus? I’ve found that when I’m not intentional with my speech, I sometimes end up using my mouth for evil, rather than good. Even when our motives are good, careless words can turn constructive criticism into scathing rebuke because our tongues are deceitful–even to our own selves!

Ephesians 4:29 is a good reminder to use our words to build others up, to say what is needed (which isn’t always what is nicest) so that another can grow as a person and as a follower of Jesus. Let’s use our words to benefit those who listen, rather than to our own good, our own glory, or our own advantage. What if we used the power of our words to serve another this week? What if we used our mouths to ask or grant forgiveness, to tell our spouses how much we love them, or to say to our kids how proud of them we are? What if we asked ourselves, “What does this person need to hear from me to be encouraged today?” How could that change a relationship or mend broken fences?

My prayer this week is that we will use our words for what is helpful in building another up to the glory of God and the benefit of that person.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash