[Sunday Afternoon by Thomas Webster]
As today is a Sunday and my last research-blog idea is still bouncing around in the recesses of my mind, my entry shall revolve around an anecdote and a bit of scripture. As a side note, I sort of regret that I grew up long after the days when Sundays were still so strictly dedicated to God that afternoons were spent in silent contemplation of Him. There's certainly something to be said for meditation on the Psalms and the worshipful attitude it tends to produce.
That said, the thought of the day was produced by a week of successive discouraging encounters at my workplace. I came home nightly feeling as if I could do nothing right, and wondering why on earth God had placed me in a setting where I couldn't even be a proper witness to those around me by working well. The Monday following, one of my co-workers addressed me in passing and said, "You received two compliments last week. Hazel and I were remarking how we thought you wouldn't work out when you first came here, because you're so quiet and the rest of us aren't. But you have a good sense of humor."
Well, that brightened my day considerably, knowing that at least someone thought I belonged there. It led me to thinking about encouraging others and about all the verses in Proverbs that compare a wicked tongue and a bad attitude with the conduct of the godly man.
Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Psalm 15:1-3 A Psalm of David. LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
Webster's 1828 Dictionary explains encouragment as...
The act of giving courage, or confidence of success; incitement to action or to practice; incentive. We ought never to neglect the encouragement of youth in generous deeds. The praise of good men serves as an encouragement of virtue and heroism.
The verse that especially gets me as a young woman is Proverbs 31:26, talking about how the virtuous woman has the law of kindness in her tongue. The idea is almost that of a natural law, like gravity. Her automatic setting is that she blesses people with her speech. That same chapter makes note of how her husband feels safe sharing his heart with her.
Goodness knows that in this world there are enough of the sort whose desire it is to tear down. I am so thankful for a Holy Spirit who checks my words that might do so much harm otherwise, who stills my heart and humbles me. Human encouragement falls so short, putting band-aids where people need their wounds fully dressed...
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: (Jude 1:20-22 )