Henry Ward Beecher once said, “A helping word to one in trouble is often like a switch on a railroad track… an inch between a wreck and smooth, rolling prosperity.” There are proverbs that convey the very same principle, but the image of a horrific train wreck being averted by mere words is very powerful one. Such helping words often come in the form of encouragement.
Solomon gives us some perspective regarding their power. “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:19-20). Words can either be good or bad. Solomon also said that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Understanding this, we can see that words of encouragement can turn the train either towards disaster or away from it as well. Obviously, the words of the righteous can wisely feed us encouragement to attain and maintain spiritual prosperity and momentum through life. That is what we each need to give and receive.
Christ was able to speak in such a way and He explains the source of such ability in the book of Isaiah. “Thus says the LORD [Jesus Christ]… The Lord God [the Father] has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning; He awakens My ear to hear as the learned (Isaiah 50:1, 4). God, our Father, gave Christ the wisdom to speak in such a way as to strengthen and encourage others with whatever truth it was they needed to hear at the moment. Christ encouraged those who were heavy-laden to come to Him to be refreshed. His words pointed to real solutions in the lives of others.
Again, Christ’s ability to verbally encourage is what we each need to be able to give to others or to receive from others. We know that we have to ask our Father in faith, and not wavering, for the wisdom we need to be truly encouraging to one another. We ask for that ability in a particular attitude. In verse 5 of Isaiah chapter 50, we see how Christ was able to gain the tongue of the wise or learned. “The Lord God has opened My ear; And I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away.” The truth that Christ was able to speak to the weary, at the necessary time, can only be received when our own ear is set to hear what God’s will is in a matter and not our own. When that is in order, we can be super helpful to one another.
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:13-14). In Mr. Beecher’s words, “A helping word to one in trouble is often like a switch on a railroad track… an inch between a wreck and smooth, rolling prosperity.”