Recently as I was reading through Proverbs, I came across Proverbs 12:25, which reads, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good work cheers it up.” There is so much truth packed into this one verse. Each one of us can identify with both halves of this verse. Maybe you are weighed down with anxiety right now. We know God does not desire for us to be anxious and weighed down by burdens. Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7 ESV). As believers, our response to anxiety should be prayer. Now, this is not intended to be trite. Years of anxiety may not be overcome in a few minutes of prayer, not that the God of the universe is incapable of relieving you of years of anxiety as you cry out to Him. We don’t usually get into trouble overnight nor do we usually get out overnight. It is likely to take some time, and a lot of prayer, to work through the anxiety.
In Proverbs 12, we are made aware of the weight of anxiety. It wears us down! Anxiety takes a terrible toll on our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. It is no one’s friend! The second half of Proverbs 12:25 tells us, “A good word cheers it up” (i.e. the heart). Encouraging words lift up a person’s countenance and outlook, even if he or she is weighed down by anxiety. Can you recall a time when another person spoke timely encouragement to you? Are you able to remember what the person said? What did the encouragement do for you? The Christian ministry of encouragement is so much more important than most of us realize. Our words have the potential to strengthen someone’s faith and obedience to Christ. They also have the potential to weaken someone’s faith and obedience to Christ.
I think the key to this practice of encouragement is what kind of words are used. The Hebrew word use here is טוֹב (tov), which is translated by the HCSB as “good.” It has a wide range of meaning based on the context, from “pleasant” to “kind.” Its general meaning is “good” as in “good in character and value” (HALOT). Words the help, “cheer [one] up” are words that God would view as good. So, how do we speak, “a good word” to fellow believers?
Let’s picture our church family and the disciplemaking ministry we are seeking, by the Lord’s enablement, to faithfully carry out. There are those who serve as: ushers, S.S. Teachers, S.S. Superintendant, Junior Church teachers, technology and sound technicians, nursery workers, praise team members, those who pray and/or read Scripture, provide special music, share a testimony, AWANA leaders, helpers, teachers, etc… Some greet others in a friendly manner (without having a title or office). Some ask how others are doing and encourage faithfulness to the Lord. There are those who write encouraging notes, text messages, or emails. Some say thank you to someone else for his or her ministry and/or example. Some share with someone else that they have been praying for him or her or for one of their family members. In view of these ministries and acts of service to the Lord Jesus, how can you speak “a good word” to someone else on a weekly basis?