You've heard it before: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. We're constantly being told, especially as children, to watch what we say and be kind towards others. Being kind to people has always been a struggle for me, whether it's something as simple as being polite and courteous to someone who is unpleasant or something big like forgiving a person when they've lied to me.
Compliments are like currency sometimes. If you want someone to be nice to you, you ought to be nice to them. It's like the "treat others as you want to be treated" principle from Luke 6:31. Complimenting or encouraging someone gives you a platform to build your relationship with them.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 reads, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Paul wrote this instruction to a church in biblical times (Thessalonica, if you're wondering). As Christians, it's our job to encourage one another not only in our walks with God but in other aspects of our lives like school, work, and family life. Even something as simple as, “Good job on that test in math” or “You sounded really good in that one song in last Sunday's service,” can do wonders for a person's self-esteem and help strengthen your relationship with them.
Tell someone you're praying for them (and do it!). Tell someone you thought of them when they had that hard test, audition, doctor's appointment, and so on. We should be a community of believers who love each other and build each other up, encouraging growth in our relationships with Christ as we walk with Him. Christians and non-Christians alike appreciate encouraging compliments. Being a positive influence can help build a friendship with non-Christians and be the start of witnessing for Christ as well.
I will always remember the time in Sunday School when we learned about being kind. The teacher had us all sit in a circle around one student. Our job was to write down as many things we liked about that person on sticky notes in 30 seconds, and then when the time was up the person in the middle got to read our compliments.
In my bedroom today, you can find a piece of paper hung on the wall with scraps of paper taped to it, each of them with a child's scribbles on it. I could tell you exactly what each of those papers say about me because I have been looking at them for years. Those compliments have stuck with me for almost a decade now.
You never know what one act or word of kindness can do for someone, how it might change their day or even their life. If you see a stranger and observe something good in them or about them, smile and say it! You may feel weird, but you could be the first person to encourage them in a long, long time.
The Bible says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). God forgave us of our sins out of grace and compassion, and here it says that we should do the same!
Being kind doesn't always mean just complimenting someone and praying for them or helping them with something, it means extending grace toward them when they wrong you. It means forgiving them whether or not they ask for it or "deserve" it. Forgiving people is hard, I get that, but if we are trying to be kind and show God's amazing love toward others, it's something we must learn to do wholeheartedly.
Remember, build up your compliment currency in your bank by encouraging others, show a little kindness to a stranger and you may totally transform their day, and learn to forgive others with grace, despite what they have done. God forgives us of all the dumb things we do, so we should try to do the same.
Meagan is a thriving 16-year old who spends most of her free time doing homework, baking, rehearsing for Choir, hanging out with friends, or on Tumblr. She's also working on a novel and an original music album. She's excited to use the love God's placed in her heart to spread His amazing grace to everyone she meets.