Every now and again we all could use a word of encouragement. Those times when we feel like giving up rather than going on. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines encouragement as “the act of encouraging” with encouragement defined as “giving hope or promise.” Another way of looking at it is that to encourage someone is to impart courage to that person. When faced with uncertain, overwhelming, or intimidating situations, words of encouragement can be very powerful. They carry the idea of empowering the individual towards the completing of a specific goal by changing the way they perceive their abilities.
These thoughts and others came to mind as I reflected on the words of the wisdom writer found in Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good (encouraging) word makes it glad” (AMP). The Bible often reminds us of the power of words (Proverbs 18:21). Words can breathe life or death into the soul, encourage or discourage, build up a person’s spirit or tear it down. When faced with challenging situations, a word spoken at the right time is “like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Some of us are able to speak to the transforming power of words fitly spoken, words that instilled courage in us when we were tempted to give up or were discouraged.
With that in mind, encouragement can be seen as a gift; a gift we all have the ability to give. It requires us making the decision to intentionally use our words to encourage those in our sphere of influence. We cannot always assume that the person with a smile on their face has it all together. Underneath the cool demeanour may be someone struggling with an internal battle. Maybe even feeling overlooked and forgotten. Whether it is your spouse, your child, your pastor, a work colleague, a friend, a neighbour, an acquaintance – someone today needs you, us, to speak words of encouragement into their life.
One of the challenges we face is that to encourage doesn’t come naturally for some of us. That is why we must be intentional about it; we must decide to do it and commit to doing it. Paul admonishes us to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11, ESV), and to “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV). The Hebrews writer challenges us to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV). How about we start doing that today? As one leader puts it, “If the people around you depend on your words for nourishment, are they dying of malnutrition or are they thriving?” Our words matter. Choose today and every day to use your words to encourage and edify others!