The young man fidgeted as he sat down for his flight. His eyes darted back and forth to the aircraft windows. Then he closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to calm himself—but it didn’t work. As the plane took off, he slowly rocked back and forth. An older woman across the aisle from him put her hand on his arm and gently engaged him in conversation to divert his attention from his stress. “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “We’re going to be okay,” and “You’re doing well” were a few things she whispered. She could have been irritated with him or ignored him. But she chose a touch and a few words. Little things. When they landed three hours later, he said, “Thank you so much for helping me.”
Such beautiful pictures of tenderheartedness can be hard to find. Kindness does not come naturally to many of us; our primary concern is often ourselves. But when the apostle Paul urged, “Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32), he was not saying it all depends on us. After we’ve been given a new life by our faith in Jesus, the Spirit begins a transformation. Kindness is the ongoing work of the Spirit renewing our thoughts and attitudes (v. 23).
The God of compassion is at work in our hearts, allowing us in turn to touch others’ lives by reaching out and whispering words of encouragement.
Lord, use me today to bring someone hope, a lighter burden, encouragement.
Compassion is understanding the troubles of others and reaching out.
The power of our words is a theme throughout Scripture. The admonition in Ephesians 4:29 is to build each other up through our speech. The book of Proverbs encourages its readers to get a grip on wisdom, and part of wisdom living is the right use of our words. That’s why many Proverbs speak about “words,” “speech,” the “mouth,” and “lips.” Proverbs 10:11 describes the tremendous power of words to invigorate and enrich others: “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.”
How can you build someone up today with your words?