(October 17, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan drop a hint…
In the midst of all that’s bad in our world or on the local scene, our everyday living, our seeking to achieve whatever we’re led to aim for – despite sicknesses, heartbreaks – or whatever is bugging us, hindering us, strife that causes us to feel low, there’s one thing that always perks us up!
What, you wonder, could that be? Just three little words… so meaning and powerful – A kind word.
Such encouragement may only be a simple thank you… which we were parent-taught to say when someone gave us something, or did something for us.
Acts of kindness and thankyous and encouragements are often missing today! For example, on purchasing a very inexpensive 2023 dairy this morning we said a meaningful thankyou at checkout. The young clerk had been smiling but stopped in surprise. ‘Too many customers forget to say that’ he nodded sheepishly.
As we complete our grocery shopping, we sincerely thank the checkout person. So often most shoppers just don’t say ‘Thank you’ and when we do, the assistant will casually say, ‘Oh, it’s my job.’
And we’ll respond with ‘Yes, we know, but we still want you to know that we appreciate you.’ Especially when a young grocery store person goes out-of-their-way to ensure each shopping bag isn’t packed too heavy for us ‘seniors’ and has even loaded those bags into our trolley.
The result is that we see a smile of appreciation from an encouraged individual who has been concentrating inventively on checking item and prices, maybe for hours. Sometimes a brief chat ensues and we take the opportunity to give them about God and whatever word the Holy Spirit lays on our heart. We make friends!
This same principle of encouragement should be enacted with the whoevers – tradies, doctors, surgeons, police officers, mechanics, petrol station staff, cafeterias, restaurants, hospitals, clinics, friends, neighbours, family especially spouse, even that often unseen postie! (And, we must add… even enemies!).
In fact, if we were to suddenly think that we hadn’t thanked anyone, we’d be horrified and would make contact to apologise. Now that doesn’t make us extra special, it’s doing the right thing!
Kindness longed for today
A kind word is really an encouragement, something that’s very obviously longed for by so many! We’ve been aware of this for several months – including ministries, especially about unexpected illnesses!
The reality is that everyone needs encouragement and it goes a long way, even deeper than we know at times. It’s a blessing! It’s you being kind!
Jesus always acted from His heart and encouraged many, like the bereaved widowed woman whose only son had died. ‘When the Lord saw her, His heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” He said’ (Luke 7:13NLT). Message Bible says that ‘His heart broke.’
In Luke 6:36, He declared God’s heart. Message Bible says, ‘Our Father is kind, you be kind.’ NLT version tells us, ‘You must be compassionate…’ and then tells why: ‘… just as your Father is compassionate.’
And Paul mentioned heart-felt action in Ephesians 4:32, ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another.’ GNB and several other versions say ’tender-hearted’, and Message says ‘sensitive.’ One verb (a doing word!) is common, even in the old KJV – ‘Be kind to one another’ implying we should be gracious; forgiving one another is mentioned in this verse too! Obviously, overall God intends kind thoughtful people to be doing good deeds – ‘acts of kindnesses.’
Note too that a kind word of encouragement comes from the heart! Jesus said a good heart receives good rewards – ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’(Matthew 5:8).’
Even heroes need a kind word
As readers know, I (Robert) am a confirmed John Wayne fan! Always was and always will be. The Duke is the man!
The world (the celluloid world), whether the Wild West, devastated Europe or war-torn Pacific, erupting on-fire oilwells, Communist infiltrated Hawaii, stressed African animals, endangered airline crew and passengers, uneasy Alaskan gold prospectors, troubled Ireland, London, Chicago… whoever, wherever… hotspots were safe when Big John was on hand!
After 61 years of marriage my darling Maureen, knowing he’s always been my hero still puts up with me wanting to play DVDs featuring the Duke, especially every Saint Patrick’s Day! Yes, every year The Quiet Man comes out and we watch Sean Thornton (John Wayne) from American, win the heart of Irish redhead Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) and floor her arrogant loudmouthed brother, Red Will Danaher (Victor McLagen)!
John Wayne was the quintessential hero willing to take risks and deal with difficult or violent situations but always with a soft heart underneath. He was known for his tough guy roles, loyalty to the American flag, stands for justice, fighting brawls, heavy drinking… and later his winning over cancer several times. Before heroes such as Big Arnie or Rocky, moviegoers always regarded John Wayne as the man.
Something a lot of people don’t know. Tough-guy Duke would often ask for encouragement. It might simply be when sitting somewhere and asked if he wanted a drink, the Duke would look up, smile and say, ‘Yes’ – but always add ‘… and a kind word.’
A simple kind word, encouragement can mean so much to anyone, not just heroes. We deliberately call our category Encouragement.
‘Encouragement’ in the New Testament is paraklesis – from a Greek word meaning ‘to come alongside in order to help, aid, exhort and comfort.’
It links beautifully with the work of the Holy Spirit, the parakletos or Comforter. Christians are encouraged to be encouragers and our helper, the Spirit, comes alongside us to help! The ISB version of Romans 12:8 says, ‘Devote yourself to encouraging others.’
Showing kindness, saying thank you, isn’t weakness – it’s the civil, the Christian, the right thing to do. To quote from that old hymn by Joseph L. Townsend (1849–1942) –
‘Let us oft speak kind words to each other;
Kind words are sweet tones of the heart.’
A kind word goes a long way, brightens many a dark-clouded day…