Why do Preaching Positive Words Have Greater Power Than Negative Ones?

by Dr. Bruce Ballast

In my last post, I noted that words are important.  Words, empowered by the Holy Spirit, change lives.   It is obvious, I believe, that preaching positive word has a greater impact than preaching negative ones.  View this short video about Thomas Edison.


The point is, of course, that when dealing with children, positive words give a powerful vision for the future.

The Same is True for Preaching

I believe that the same thing holds for preaching: Preaching positive words give people a renewed direction for their lives.  However, there is a strong emphasis on preaching, at least in my country, that says that we should preach judgment.  One of the most famous sermons in American Church history is, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, preached by Jonathan Edwards.  Here are just a couple of lines from that sermon.

The God that holds you’re the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some detestable insect, detests you, and is dreadfully provoked: His wrath towards you burns like a fire; He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be thrown into the fire.”

Talk about negative, judgmental preaching! He would probably laugh at the idea that we should be preaching positive words in our sermons.  He preached this sermon as the Great Awakening was coming to an end in the 1700s in America.  During that period of history, judgmental preaching caused people to fall down in repentance and fear.  So, some would reason, that’s how we should preach today if we want that result.  If you want to read the whole sermon, here’s a link that will lead you there.

How to Preach Judgmental Sermons

Is this what we should do today?  If we are going to preach the whole counsel of God, we will preach that judgment is coming on occasion.    However, most people who preach judgment do so in an angry way.  Jeremiah was known as The Weeping Prophet.  He preached judgment but did so with tears.  I believe that’s what we need to do as well.  We begin with the love of God always.  When we preach judgment, it should be with the attitude of Jeremiah, with our tears mixing with God’s at a wandering person or people.

How To Learn to Preach Positive Words?

In Lune 6:45 Jesus spoke this proverb: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  If our heart is full of love for God, that will spill over into our words.  If that happens, we will naturally end up preaching positive words in our sermons.

A second thing we can do is simply to be aware of this issue as we prepare.  Recently, I read a Harvard Business Review study that indicated that the most productive workplaces are those where there is a ratio of five positive words for every negative word that is spoken.  Listen to the people around you.  What kind of words do they say?  Listen to yourself when you preach.  Listen to yourself when you are in your home, or interacting with your people.  Be aware, and you’ll find that preaching positive words is the choice to make.