One morning a man opened the door to get his daily newspaper. Prepared to walk to the curb he was surprised to see a little dog sitting at the front door, tail wagging with the newspaper in his mouth. At first he was a bit taken back and even thought of scolding the dog for “messing with my newspaper,” after all “that dog could have ripped this paper to pieces,” he said to his wife. However, on reflection he realized the dog had simply done him a good deed. Reconsidering, he spoke kindly to the little dog, expressing his appreciation with both kind words and a comforting tone. The following morning the man was shocked to see the same dog sitting at the front door again, wagging his tail, this time surrounded by eight newspapers!
The power of encouraging words is seldom put to use. The English novelist, Joseph Conrad noted: “He who wants to persuade should put his trust, not in the right argument, but in the right word.” Words have the power both to encourage and to discourage; to build up and to destroy. Christians should ever strive to encourage and build up one another with words of encouragement.
From the first book of Scripture to the last, examples of encouragement abound. When Abraham was in fear for his life God encouraged him: “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gn. 15:1b). Moses was admonished to prepare Joshua for his work with words of encouragement: “But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see” (Dt. 3:28). King Hezekiah took time to encourage the Levites whose life was wholly dedicated to God (2 Chron. 30.22) as did King Josiah encourage the priests in their work: “And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the Lord” (2 Chron. 35:2).
In the New Testament we discover how Blind Bartimaeus was encouraged by his fellows to approach the Christ when called: “And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee” (Mk. 10:49). In a similar fashion, the early Christians were encouraged to faithfulness and steadfastness by Paul and Barnabas, even in the face of certain difficulties: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
It is amazing what a little encouragement will do! Brother, Sister—do we use words of kindness to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, or have we become busy complaining and criticizing? Solomon wrote: “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Prov. 16:24). The wiseman further noted the benefit of kind words adding: “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” (Prov. 27:9)
Brethren, let us strive to put aside negative words and harsh criticism. Let us cease from being fault finders and become faultless encouragers. What great things God can accomplish by us if we will but seek to strengthen and encourage one another in Christ.
– Ronnie Scherffius