“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).
You may have heard of the book, The Five Love Languages, written by Dr. Gary Chapman. His book, written in 1992, describes five primary ways individuals are most prone to communicate and receive love, i.e., “love languages.” Chapman’s five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and giving/receiving gifts. Today I want to talk about how we show love and encouragement through words of affirmation. Affirming words are those which communicate your love, appreciation, and respect for another person; they are used to acknowledge one’s positive qualities, to strengthen those qualities, and to uplift and encourage the person. Whether you directly say these words, or speak them to others in the presence of the person you are affirming, they have the effect of validating and literally “making firm” the God-given qualities unique to that person.
The Bible is full of verses that encourage the speaking of words of affirmation, as well as verses that speak these affirming words to us. One example is in 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11, “Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So, encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (NLT). Another example in 2 Timothy 4:2 is “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (NIV).
As you speak words of affirmation you are speaking life into the other person. Proverbs 15:4 explains, “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit” (NIV). Proverbs 10:11 puts it this way, “The mouth of the righteous is a tree of life.” To affirm someone is to show support or approval, and never is this more critical than in the life of a young child. In those developing years, a child relies on his mother and father for comfort, affirmation, and encouragement. Statements like, “I am so proud of you,” and, ”The work you put into that math class has really paid off” are strengthening agents that can be remembered for a lifetime. Another example of an encouraging affirmation might be to a dedicated volunteer worker at the church, such as, “The children love your enthusiasm and the way you are so inclusive.” I have noticed that words of affirmation are like fertilizer on a flower. These words provide extra nutrients and the plant blooms; it flourishes so much more than those without this added nourishment. It’s important to look for opportunities to affirm others. I have seen people who have a critical spirit. They are unable to speak an encouraging word because all they see is the negative. Choosing to say positive and uplifting words is like being a conduit for God’s grace. “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)
As Tarah Lynn explains in her blog Adorned, “Generally, positive affirmations are effective. [But just] imagine how much more impactful these declarations will be if they’re rooted in the Word of God?! Imagine praying the promises of God over your life?! With positive affirmations, you are working from your own strength. With biblical affirmations, you are totally dependent on God. People say: just think “happy thoughts” as if that’s the easy solution, but happy thoughts are situational. The only way we can have joy and peace, a permanent state, is when we keep our minds on Christ.” The following are some of her examples of “Biblical Affirmations to Build Your Confidence, and the Confidence of Others”, from Tarah Lynn in her blog ardonedinarmor.com.
I AM A CHILD OF THE KING-
1 Peter 2:9, The Passion Translation (TPT) – But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world.
I AM REMARKABLY MADE.
Psalm 139:14 (HCSB) – I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.
I AM WORTH MORE THAN RUBIES.
Proverbs 31:10 (MSG) – A good woman is hard to find and worth far more than diamonds.
I AM ALWAYS ON GOD’S MIND.
Psalms 139:13 – You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother’s womb.
Have you had someone in your life who gave you words of affirmation? I have and am thankful for them. These people were very intentional in their desire to affirm others in their lives and were a great example to me. I can still recall these words and I am encouraged by them. I also appreciate the words of affirmation given to my family. What a joy to hear your husband or children receive encouraging words. I am also heartened by the verses I have memorized over the years, “words of affirmation” directly from God through His living Word. While there are those whose actual God-given “love language” is words of affirmation, the opportunity to encourage others with honest and insightful words that are both life-giving and strengthening is available to all of us. It can be and should be cultivated. Everyone needs a little encouraging!
Dear Holy Father, I ask You today to open our eyes to the many opportunities You give us to affirm others. Help us to make the decision to speak as one who speaks the very words of God, showing His grace so that in all things You may be praised through Jesus Christ.
In His Holy Name, Amen