Living in Britain, I’ve grown up learning that all friendships are based on a healthy dose of playful insults, sarcasm and generally just making fun of each other. I am a huge fan of the unique sense of humour that the British are well known for, but it may also have it’s downsides.
While I love a bit of cheeky banter, it can quickly give way to insensitive comments that sting a little more than intended. The bible makes it really clear that what we say can have a massive impact. Take the book of Proverbs for example:
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” – Proverbs 12:18
That’s some powerful imagery. This book of Godly wisdom goes on to describe how the power of life and death are contained in what we say. Pretty intense stuff. But it doesn’t even end there. Skip forward to the New Testament and we see the same message repeated:
“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 4:39
It’s clear that what we say matters massively, even it was only meant as a joke. So how can we can we break away from a culture of friendly put downs to build each other up? I want to suggest one simple way we can do it. Write a letter.
Let me explain. Like me, you might sometimes struggle to get your thoughts and emotions out without it sounding a bit cringy. So why not try writing it down instead? I am very blessed to have friends who do just that. Recently I had one of those days where I was really struggling and feeling pretty low. I got home to find a handwritten letter from a friend which was so thoughtful and kind that it actually made me cry. It reminded me that I am loved, valued and accepted.
Following my wonderful friend’s example, every now and then I try to send people little notes or even just a text with a bit of encouragement. It’s pretty simple really. It doesn’t cost me much. But it has the potential to have a huge impact. God gets that we need to be encouraged, and that’s why he calls us to build each other up.
Whilst you’re still on your lovely Christmas break (and the big day is over *sobs*), why not take some time to do just that, maybe even spend some time praying about who you could send a message to. Let’s create a culture where valuing and encouraging each other is just what we do.