When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
— Acts 11:23–24

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
— Matthew 12:34

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
— Proverbs 18:21

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I ran a half-marathon once. About halfway through the course was a steep and long hill. My feet and lungs were begging me to stop, when suddenly my friends and family came into view. They were smiling, clapping, cheering, and holding signs with uplifting quotes on them, and their support gave me the strength to continue. I’m still amazed at their kindness as they met me each mile along the course to continue encouraging me all the way to the finish.

A word of encouragement offered at the right moment can be the difference between finishing well and collapsing along the way, can’t it? In our everyday lives, simple heartfelt words can make such an impact on our strength to carry on.

Words like:

I love you.
I’m thinking of you.
I miss you.
How are you? You can do this!
I admire you.
You’re beautiful.
You are talented.
You make me happy.
Your work is impressive!
I’m so glad God put you in my life.

Oh, what a difference a thoughtful text, a courteous call, or a love-filled letter can make, especially on days when we are feeling emotionally worn or distressed. I think of how Paul often wrote to the various churches to encourage them and how we are still being encouraged by those letters today.

As influential as Paul was and is, even he needed encouragement, and God used a man named Barnabas to encourage Paul to continue his ministry. Nicknamed “the Son of Encouragement,” Barnabas quietly influenced Paul in the early days of Christianity.

Thinking about this makes me wonder: What if Barnabas hadn’t encouraged Paul? If Paul had been discouraged and quit, would he have written all the letters of the New Testament we are able to read today? Barnabas refreshed Paul so that Paul could then go on to refresh others.

How about us? Are our words a refreshing influence on others or a discouragement to them?

Scripture says out of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34) and that our words can bring either life or death (Proverbs 18:21). Therefore, in order to share words that uplift rather than tear down, we must be intentional about filling our hearts with God’s Word. And on occasions when we don’t know what to say to encourage the people in our lives, we can always use God’s words found in the Bible.

We are all running this marathon of life. On the flat stretches, downhills, and especially those steep uphills, your words of encouragement could be what keeps your fellow runner going. May we all finish well, encouraging each other every step of the way, knowing there is a great crowd of witnesses cheering us on as we do (Hebrews 12:1).

Love Offering:
Fill your heart with God’s encouraging words. Then write a letter or text, make a call, or plan a visit with someone whom God places on your heart to encourage with your words.

Prayer Prompt:
Lord, thank You for all of those You have placed in my life who have been an encouragement to me. Most of all, thank You for Your Word and its constant encouragement. Fill me with Your truth so that what is in my heart is only what You would have me to speak. Open my eyes to those around me who may need a word of encouragement, give me the words to share, and help me to be obedient to share them. Amen.

Talk It Over:
Can you think of a time when someone’s encouraging words made an impact on you? If you’re reading this plan with a friend, use this time to offer her a word of encouragement.

Thank you to Rachael Adams for providing this reading plan.