Your daily Olympic devotional
A snippet from a new sports devotional, The Spirit of Victory. Available through your favourite bookstore.
Ambassadors of Encouragement - Ephesians 4:29
If anyone tells you “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” don’t believe them! Words are like bullets that can puncture the thickest skin and pierce the hidden soul.
Athletes are constantly targeted by vile trolling, criticism and judgement. If words can bring such hurt, they can also bring great good. Genuine encouragement could lift our Olympians to face adversity and overwhelming challenges with a renewed confidence.
The verse from the letter to the Ephesians chapter 4 verse 29 eliminates the negative and accentuates the positive in our speech. “No foul language, but only what is good for building up someone in need.” A few verses earlier, Paul wrote in verse 25, “Put away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbour.”
Through our words of encouragement, we can add value to the life of our neighbour who has been made in the image of God.
Above all, these words bring grace to the hearers. Grace is one of the GREAT words of the Bible and has its origins in the concept of gift and generosity. It is a word that wonderfully reveals what God is like in His character and activity.
As Psalm 116:5 puts it, “The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is compassionate.” God, as the author of life, is the giver of all good things. However, God’s grace goes way beyond the second mile, when in sheer generosity God gives eternal life to undeserving sinners through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is goodness and generosity beyond imagination. Grace also conveys the idea of extra strength being communicated to the hearer.
In our speech, we faintly reflect the grace of God when we encourage and build up others, in another letter Paul wrote, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” Colossians 4:6.
When we add to encouragement, praise and thankfulness to the menu of our speech, we have something tasty and appetising for every hearer. The world needs ambassadors of encouragement, including the sporting world, so commit yourself today to becoming one.
Peter Nelson the Australian Institute of Sport chaplain for 29 years (Ret), 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics Chaplain. Peter’s story