Twenty years ago today, March 22, 1999 was one of the hardest days of my life. My Mom, who was living in Missouri met up with Brooksyne in San Francisco to attend the wedding of a young man who grew up in our church. They were staying with my older brother, Mike, in California. Following the wedding my mother had a bad fall which led to a very serious brain injury and required emergency brain surgery. Her life hung in the balance. Ester and I were home which was Massachusetts at that time. That same day I also experienced a personally painful dose of denominational politics in its nastiest form. Figuratively speaking it felt as though I had received several hard blows right in the stomach, knocking the wind right out of me.
The healing, as is so often the case, began almost immediately with a word “fitly” spoken. I recall my pain and dismay at the events occurring in my life and was somewhat slumped over under the weight of it all. A friend, sensitive toward my difficulties, approached me and placed his hand on my shoulder. In his own words he reminded me that God was in control and that He surely had a plan that I could not see at the time.
The next several months would be a time of overcoming as my Mom slowly recovered; eight days in the main hospital, then in a rehab hospital in California for eight weeks, and then months of recovery in our home. In spite of the severity of her injury she lived another 6½ years and did remarkably well. Of course God worked out the other issues in my ministry as well and I’m still plugging along or as I often say “staying faithful”.
When you’ve experienced times of hardship or perplexity in life I hope you’ve received the wonderful encouragement of “a word fitly spoken”. Or perhaps God has used you from time to time in giving “a word fitly spoken”. The concept is taught in the New Testament as speaking words, “helpful for building others up according to their needs, benefiting those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
The daily Scripture verse is a proverb, which is a “short pithy saying” (pithy is a not a word I use a lot but recall from a Bible College definition). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” The word “fitly” in the text translates a Hebrew word found only once in the entire Bible which conveys the sense of “in season”, (translated “aptly” in the NIV). The New American Standard Version uses the phrase, “a word spoken in right circumstances”. The Amplified states, “A word fitly spoken and in due season”. The CEB version states, “The right word at the right time”.
These are God-ordained words that go right to the heart that meet the need for a particular circumstance. I can specifically recall several other times in my life when I have received a “word fitly spoken”. Once, shortly after we were married, I was greatly discouraged in regard to closed doors of ministry and Brooksyne spoke eleven meaningful words, “God will never lead us where His grace cannot keep us”. It didn’t change the immediate circumstances but it gave me a much more hopeful perspective that I still remember 42 years later.
When we offer words of encouragement or words of wisdom to others we’re usually unaware of their effect! As I reflect on times when I have been the recipient of these needed words it occurs to me that generally they are very brief. I encourage you to reflect on times in your own life when someone has been a blessing in sharing such words with you. We mull them over and over in our minds and it deeply impacts our attitude or even our behavior.
Today’s encouragement is a reminder of the power of our words to encourage others (whether spoken or written). Every one of you will have numerous opportunities throughout the day to build others up. For some that may be just a sentence or it might be a lengthy “formal” discussion.
Most encouragement is brief and may even seem rather inconsequential at the time. Who needs to hear (or read) such a word from you today? As you ask God for divine appointments in your workplace or your surroundings this day, may you be mindful of the needs of those around you. As the Lord enables you, be sure to offer “a word fitly spoken”.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You know the exact number of words that will flow from my lips today, some of them meaningful and others meaningless. Would You help me to be conscious of the words I speak to others and make me sensitive to those who need caring words. Help me to look not only to my own interests but also to the interests of others as I offer words fitly spoken to those desperately needing to hear a word from You through a servant like me. Amen.
Brooksyne’s Note: It’s interesting to consider expressions of care, thought-provoking words, Christian music and other positive influences that have greatly impacted me over the years. Many of the messengers God has used in my life are unaware of how God used their “fitly spoken” words at various times. Occasionally it was a word of correction spoken not directly to me, but God applied it to my heart. As I am reading through Proverbs in my personal devotions I see the prevailing theme of using our words wisely and weighing our actions very carefully. I’ve committed quite a number of Proverbs to memory but wish I had made a habit of doing so when I was very young. Some Christians are in the habit of reading a Proverb everyday to coincide with the day of the month. For example on March 1 they read Proverbs 1 and today, March 22, they read Proverbs 22. It’s a great exercise and no doubt much memorization will take place with little effort for those who do this faithfully.
Here are several other Scriptures with a similar theme.
“A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23).
“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary” (Isaiah 50:4).
“For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes” (Jeremiah 31:25).