OK, so a “word of encouragement” is usually more than one word. After all, there are only so many words that express encouragement by themselves. (Ever hear someone offer to share a “word of prayer”? Same thing.) But, what if we could just say one encouraging thing to one person today?
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NASB
We might not think that our words have a big influence, but they do. Even Mark Twain, not known for his positive views on faith, came to a variant of this same conclusion (see http://www.quotes.net/quote/39037).
James, the author of the book named after him in the Bible, had some other – and perhaps more inspired – insight into this. James 3:1-12 is a good passage to read in its entirely, but the verses below capture some of the impact of what we say.
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
James 3:8-10 NASB
Rather than trying to convince you with illustrations from the Bible, history, or my own experience, though, I invite you to do two things:
- Look back. Who in your life gave you the right message at the right time? What small word of kindness gave you the encouragement to get through a day? If nothing comes to mind, keep reading.
- Give it a try. Look for something positive to say to those around you. I’m fairly certain if you try sharing some words of encouragement today, you will find that your words will actually do some good. You might not see results right away, but try being sincerely encouraging for a week.
My suggestion: Keep an eye out for those who need a friendly smile and a quick word of encouragement. You don’t have to deliver a monologue or prepare an extensive speech. Just a friendly “hi” and a word of thanks for someone (maybe someone that you see every day) can be encouraging. There are a few who may not appreciate it, but I think that you’ll find that genuinely blessing other people will almost always make a positive difference.
For all we know, perhaps God already has in mind to place you in that situation – for a very specific purpose – today.
For further reading, see also: