Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
A survey asked mothers to keep track of how many times they made negative, compared with positive, comments to their children. They admitted that they criticized ten times for every time they said something favorable. A three-year survey in one city's schools found that the teachers were 75% negative. The study indicated that it takes four positive statements from a teacher to offset the effects of one negative statement to a child. (Institute of Family Relations in Homemade, December 1986).
Most people are infected with the negativity virus. This is evident in their outlook on life and their attitude in times of difficulty. Even those who pray fervently struggle with the negativity virus. Thus, they struggle in their spiritual life because their negative words and attitudes contradict the faith necessary to experience the favor of God.
Negativity impacts our emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health. Negative words are toxic to our souls. They destroy confidence, undermine personal growth, blind us to the power of God working in our lives, damage healthy relationships, stun professional growth, and stymie spiritual growth.
Unfortunately, as much as 77% of everything we think is negative and counterproductive and works against us. People who grow up in an average household hear "No" or are told what they can't do more than 148,000 times by the time they reach age 18. Result: Unintentional negative programming. (Shad Helmstetter in Homemade, Jan, 1987).
The remedy for the negativity virus is faith and hope. Faith increases our confidence, gives us the courage to persevere, and enables us to have a more positive outlook on what God is doing in our lives and in the world. Consequently, we can occupy a more positive space in the lives of others through our words and attitudes.
Because faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), it gives us the courage to reject the doom and gloom and speak about things that are not as though they were. For example, instead of telling someone struggling with stage 4 cancer they are going to die, we can remind them that God is a miracle worker, and nothing is impossible with the Lord. Therefore, they should live with an expectation of divine healing. Such hope-filled words are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones of the cancer victim.
During this season of prayer and fasting, the Lord has been convincing me to be free of the negativity virus so I can encourage His people with the hope that is vital to developing stronger faith. This is a challenge for me because at times I struggle to lift up the positive amid challenges. As a proclaimer of the good news of Jesus Christ, my speech must always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that the Christ in me may be evident for the world to see (Colossians 4:6)
It is important for us to develop the aptitude to express positivity instead of negativity. This requires the ability to find something good in every bad situation. It may also require self-control to remain silent when it is not possible to say something positive. In cases when we have to provide constructive criticisms, we have to make sure our words are as pleasant as honeycomb.
Questions for Personal Reflection
How do you stay positive in a contentious situation?
How do you respond to criticism from others?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please help my speech to always be gracious so that I can be a blessing and not a discouragement. Please remind me of the impact of negative words when anger overflows my spirit so I can be an agent of hope and not a supplier of despair.