There’s an old story about a pastor who never said a bad word about anyone (so the veracity of this story may be in doubt). He was famous for his eulogies at funerals. There was always something positive about the deceased that he could share with the congregation. So when Melvin died, it presented a problem. Everyone in the small town disliked Melvin. He was rude and inconsiderate, cheated people in business and bullied anyone who challenged him. Although he was unpopular and had no friends, the church was packed for the funeral. The size of the crowd reflected the curiosity of the town’s people. What on earth could the pastor possibly say about this man that was positive?
The pastor himself struggled, but during the message offered this praise: “Melvin had a wonderful gift for whistling. He was one of the best whistlers I have ever heard.” It was perhaps a little thin, but even those who hated Melvin had to agree he was a good whistler. The pastor had managed to keep his reputation for talking about others in a positive way.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) We know how easy it is to criticize and complain. Tearing down is easier than building up. It’s harder to share words of life. If we desire to have a positive impact on others, then we need to speak words of encouragement and appreciation. It doesn’t take much time, but it makes a world of difference.