On a flight I took some months ago, there was a little girl sitting in the catty-cornered seat from me. She had a beautiful new coloring book that her mother had obviously brought especially for the flight. Occupying the same row was another girl about the same age whose father was seated behind her. This girl had no coloring book, and in fact, didn’t seem to have anything to occupy her.
The girl with the coloring book was soon busily coloring with her crayons spread out on the tray table, and the other girl was looking longingly at them. I felt bad for the girl who had none, so I prayed that the first child would feel moved to tear out a page from her nice coloring book and share it. Sure enough, after a while I saw that she had indeed torn a page out and had given it to her seatmate and was sharing her crayons with her.
I leaned forward across the aisle and told the girl that sharing her coloring book was such a nice thing to do. She brightened up and was obviously pleased that someone had noticed. I don’t know how far that little exchange will go, but I would like to think that the next time she has to make a choice whether to share something or not, she will be reminded of the woman who was proud of her because she made the right decision.
Everyone craves encouragement. I believe that God wants to encourage people, but a lot of times He needs us to do it. If you feel like you have no time, no energy, no expertise, no money, or too little, to give, don’t worry; that’s common to many of us. But we can all give through our words of encouragement, and we can spread God’s love wherever we go. In just a few minutes, we can make a difference at a bus stop, on the metro, crossing the street, at the shop, at work, at school, online, on a walk, and the list goes on. Our words don’t need to be profound or eloquent—just simple words that meet a person’s need for love, hope, significance, or comfort.
Here’s a question we can ask ourselves: What can I say to people that will help them in some way?—Lift their spirits, brighten their day, and make them feel good about themselves, appreciated, valued, worthwhile, and that what they’re doing counts?
Everyone appreciates knowing that they count, that they’re valuable, and that they’re doing something worthwhile. Perhaps our words of encouragement will just be one step in a person’s journey. Sometimes we might see the results of our encouragement; at other times, we will never get to see the results. But the important thing is that we are givers. Love never fails, so even if our words don’t result in someone getting the point right away, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that people feel loved, appreciated, and valued. It’s a privilege to be a giver of kindness.
Even brief encounters with people lend themselves to “a word fitly spoken,”1 something that will give people faith in themselves and faith that there are people in the world who are good and kind and concerned. This in turn may cause them to think about the Man of Love who inspires these qualities. If not, it may be a seed planted or watered that will be reaped at some future time.
Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things—in merely doing kind things? Run over it with that in view, and you will find that He spent a great proportion of His time simply in making people happy, in doing good turns to people.
What God has put in our power is the happiness of those about us, and that is largely to be secured by our being kind to them.
“The greatest thing,” says someone, “a man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children.” I wonder why it is that we are not all kinder than we are? How much the world needs it! How easily it is done! How instantaneously it acts! How infallibly it is remembered! How superabundantly it pays itself back—for there is no debtor in the world so honorable, so superbly honorable, as Love.
—Henry Drummond (1851–1897)