Words that Build Others Up

Yael Eckstein  |  September 24, 2021

Yael Eckstein smiling at an elderly Jewish woman.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
— Proverbs 16:24

Throughout this week, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Please enjoy this devotion from the Book of Proverbs, which was prepared for you in advance during this time of observance.

Occasionally, on Friday nights at our Shabbat meal, my family and I will play the following game. We start with one family member and each person at the table has to say their three favorite things about that person. Then we move on to the next person until everyone has been showered with loving and encouraging words.

It’s amazing to see how each child glows after his or her turn receiving the compliments and how much joy saying kind words can bring. My husband and I want our children to experience not only how words can tear others down and hurt them, but also how the power of speech can build up another person and make others happy.

Words That Build Others Up

I think it is so beautiful that Proverbs compares gracious words to honeycomb, of all things. Honeycomb is both sweet and, as research has shown, has many health benefits. Exactly as the Bible says, it is “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Sometimes our words may be sweet but not necessarily healing. We may utter empty platitudes just to make people happy, even when it isn’t what they need to hear.

At other times, when the situation calls for it and there is no other choice, we may tell someone something difficult that they really don’t want to hear. Those words can be healing, even if they taste bitter, the opposite of honey.

The Bible teaches us that the ideal is words that have both qualities, “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” This is the best kind of speech — words that build others up and make them want to live up to the best version of themselves.

The great news is that we have the ability to build people up like that every single day!

Your Turn:

Make a point of saying positive and empowering words to others today.