Just the Right Word

As much as I love having a warm casserole delivered to my house when I have the flu, receiving a loaf of banana bread "just because", or being hosted to a steak dinner for Pastor Appreciation Month, food is not my favorite ministry. And as nice as it is to have someone visit you when you're in the hospital or laid up with a broken appendage or recently moved into a new neighborhood, visitation doesn't really rank as number one with me either. And while I love being ministered to in someone else's home - a meal prepared in my honor, a home freshly scrubbed in anticipation of my visit, and a hostess making me feel warm and welcomed - even hospitality isn't my favorite way to be ministered to.

Congenial conversation—what a pleasure!
   The right word at the right time—beautiful!
Proverbs 15:23
A well-chosen, well-placed, timely word - that's my ministry of choice. There is absolutely nothing I appreciate more than someone sharing a godly morsel of wisdom, a biblical truth, a word of genuine encouragement, a little hope, a well-chosen scripture that speaks loudly to my current dilemma, or a reassurance straight from God's Word

Proverbs 15:23 reminds us that a well chosen word of hope, blessing, encouragement or truth, given at just the right moment is a beautiful thing indeed. And when the conversation freely volleys with such spiritually uplifting words...well, there's just nothing better. 

When was the last time someone spoke something to you that just hit your sweet spot? Perhaps they didn't even know you were hurting, but they offered you a soothing word of healing. Or maybe they were oblivious to your discouragement and yet they managed to give you a little hope. Then again, maybe you had shared your deepest worries and anxieties with vulnerability and trepidation, only to land gently on their words of encouragement and love. Oh, the relief of finding a soft landing in a sweet and soothing conversation!

I have a few friends I can count on for "just the right word" on a pretty consistent basis. That's what makes those ladies my friends! Conversation with them is like laying your head on a soft pillow and putting your feet up for a few minutes before you have to get out there and tackle the situation again. Indeed, "what a pleasure!"

But I love it when I am surprised with a timely word from an unlikely source. Like when my 16-year-old daughter told me yesterday after church how extremely cute I looked. Talk about a timely word! She made my spirit soar. (Probably caused me to stand up a little straighter and sway my hips a little more, too!) But I also love hearing a word of instruction, a bit of wisdom, or even a gentle reproof - when I know it's an "apt answer" or "a timely word," as the New American Standard Version words Proverbs 15:23. 

And don't you just almost get a chill down your spine when you realize that God has used you to say something from Him to someone else? You would think that would make you feel cocky and proud, but it has just the opposite effect. It is extremely humbling when you really manage to deliver a word of truth or hope or encouragement or even rebuke, that is wrapped in the soft and appealing packaging of God's love. And, boy, you can tell the difference, too, can't you? When you speak a word that is truly Spirit inspired as opposed to one that comes from your flesh? You can speak truth in the flesh, but, like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, it is more likely to come out of your mouth sounding like a clanging symbol or the creaking of a rusty gate. That's no ministry. That's just misery! But when you're in conversation with someone and you hear yourself saying something that swells with truth and sounds like a soothing fountain and visibly refreshes the other person...wow...that's when you know God is indeed ministering to that person through you.

So today, on Ministry Monday, I'm contemplating how I can more consistently be used to deliver a timely word, a soothing conversation, a well-chosen message of hope to those around me. I have a feeling that my usefulness in this ministry of words is directly correlated to the amount of time I spend reading God's Word and conversing with Him. All of His words are timely and well-chosen. Every conversation I have with Him leaves me rested and refreshed and re-energized. It only stands to reason that His gift for words would rub off on me the more I spend time in His presence.

I'd love to hear about how someone has ministered through their words to you. Maybe your pastor spoke directly to you in his sermon yesterday. Take it from a pastor's wife and speaker. When that happens, it's all God! Or maybe a friend or family member surprised you with just the right words recently. Or perhaps you got a word straight from the pages of God's Word today. 

Isn't a word well-spoken amazingly refreshing and powerful? I pray that you and I can be ministers of well-chosen, timely, and well-placed words of hope, faith, love, encouragement, and truth today.