I was playing racquetball with a young man I’ve known for a long time (well, I’ve known him since birth) and as we both get better and more competitive at the game, I like to call out some of his exceptional plays against me and reward him with some well-deserved praise.

But in a recent match I noticed that I had a mental edge on my opponent. Somehow I was able to interject just the right comments at just the right time to own him. The final straw was my encouragement to him after a magical shot on my part in which he completely missed the ball. He would call it heckling, but I digress.

Now just to put the rest of the story in context, remember that all my boys are wrestlers and I used to coach wrestling…

So I offer my encouragement to my opponent and the next think I know is that the two us are rolling on the court floor somewhere between a grade school playground brawl and a collegiate wrestling dual.

Although some racquetball courts are pretty isolated, the competition courts are exposed by a glass wall in the rear so that anyone and everyone can watch you play.

Or wrestle. Because we were in one of the competition courts. Let me just say that I attract a much bigger crowd as a wrestler than as a racquetball player. It was all in good fun, and we were back to racquetball before security made their way into the court to get the various cheering sections under control.

Words have tremendous power. The Centurion in Jesus’ day knew this when Jesus asked him if he should come and heal the Centurion’s servant who was sick. No, replied the Centurion, just say the word and he knew that would heal him (see Matthew 8)

Jesus’ brother knew the power of words:  They can accomplish immeasurable tasks, or bring ruin beyond compare (see James 3)

An ordinary adult speaks between 10,000 and 20,000 words per day!

How many of those words are well-chosen? Tender? Compassionate? Wise counsel? Helpful? Encouraging?

 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.