The Belittling Tongue (#13)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21

Ah, the tongue is like a hammer – it can be used for demolition or for construction – to destroy, tear down, and pull apart or to build, strengthen and reshape.  How do you use your words usually?  Is it to build and encourage?  Or to destroy and tear down?

Do people feel better about themselves after spending time with you?

There are two main reasons people belittle or denigrate (good word!) others.  First, those who are insecure often feel better about themselves when they have brought someone else down.  The second reason is trickier – those who have high expectations of others often focus on their shortcomings and failures, instead of seeing their value and the things they are doing correctly.

I belong to the second category.  I will be remembered as a mother that had high expectations and did not tolerate failure.  My daughter does many amazing, fantastic, even hard things well.  But I some days I see only her messy room and her negligence of small things, like practicing the piano or being ready to depart on time.  I guess I really do expect her to be perfect.

Today’s challenge for me – and you – is to become an encourager, to act like a cheerleader and coach for our family members, employees, coworkers, and friends.  We need to:

  • Build up others
  • Offer positive affirmation, express appreciation, applaud accomplishments
  • Notice what people do right and praise them for it
  • Express faith in the ability of others
  • Offer more compliments and encouragement than criticism
  • Be empathetic, hold their hand, communicate with love and kindness
  • Not make negative remarks about someone in the presence of others
  • Resist the temptation to constantly “fix” something about them

After all, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  Right?!

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” Ephesians 4:29

Stop right now.  Think of two people in your life who need more encouragement.  Your husband, kids, coworker?  Who have you been hard on lately?  Take the time this week to appreciate and encourage them.  Have a positive impact on their lives, build them up.

“A wise woman builds her house, a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues

5 thoughts on “The Belittling Tongue (#13)

  1. The verse that came to my mind right away as I began to read was Proverbs 14:1. Imagine my assurance that God speaking to me personally when comming to the end of your posting! I must be more deliberate in building others up.

  2. Thanks for continuing to post these challenges for our hearts and our tongues. I had not thought about belittling people through ultra-high standards, which definitely does not build others up!

  3. Well, many people (esp. children) perform better when the standard is set high… They are capable of so much more than we realize! But I certainly don’t want to be remembered as the one who was never satisfied. Encouraging words do not come easily to me… This is a challenge.

  4. Today’s lesson is my favorite so far. Have enjoyed reading and trying to use my speaking influence for building up and not tearing down. Praise God for his help in this regard in my life!

  5. I have seen two separate demolition sites today. The wreckage, though planned, was still shocking. I need to picture those sights before I go to tearing someone down or neglect building someone up.
    Mindy, I can relate to the second reason as well. At work we strive to use something called Positive Behavior Support (PBS). Not every school in Bay County does it but it really seems to work. It is a school wide system that celebrates being respectful, responsible and ready to learn. I have loved being part of school that focuses on catching kids making good choices. It has made me more aware of being more positive even when disciplining my own child. Even with awareness, I still see the need to be more proactive in sincerely encouraging others, particularly my own family.
    I think of the 3rd chapter of James. Verse 9 “With it (our tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness.” 10 Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing, my sisters, these things should not be this way.” Ouch!
    I agree Myra, though today was most convicting, it’s been my favorite too.


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