One way we can bless, encourage and build other people so that their needs are met is through our speech. Paul said, ‘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.’ (Eph 4:29)

We need to learn to think before we speak:

Prov 12:18 says, ‘The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.’ James warns us about the power of the tongue: ‘With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.’ (James 3:9-12) Words are powerful and there needs to be consistency also in our speech so that we encourage and build people up, instead of running them down through ridicule, ribald humour and scorn

Children learn from what they hear, so if we want our children and grandchildren to speak well and to bless others instead of bullying people, they need to hear positive, encouraging words from us. When I worked as a teacher, we had this poem up in the staff room to remind us of the power of our example to others:

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those around them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live. (Dorothy Law Nolte)

Speaking well is the first step in meeting the needs of other people.