The Importance of Kind Words

Yael Eckstein  |  August 19, 2022

Yael Eckstein hugging an elderly wearing white head scarf wrap.

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
     and the pleasantness of a friend
     springs from their heartfelt advice.
— Proverbs 27:9

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

Do you need encouragement? I like to think of myself as self-motivated and self-sufficient, that I don’t need the approval or praise of others. But the truth is that we all need to hear kind words from friends.

This is especially true when my busy schedule at work and the needs of my family seem to be pulling me in all different directions. There are times when I wonder how I’m going to get everything done. I ask God, “How am I supposed to do this?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt overwhelmed, and at that very moment, God sent someone to say just what I needed to hear. An offer of help, a reminder of how much impact I am having in my work with The Fellowship, or just a pleasant word to make me smile, each of these things gives me the strength to keep going. I try to remind myself that it’s not a sign of weakness to need encouragement from friends. It’s part of being human.

The Importance of Kind Words

Certainly, we see this message in Proverbs, “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”

Perfume and incense are enjoyable and pleasant smells. But what’s so important about pleasant smells? After all, you can’t feed yourself with nice perfumes and incense. They seem like luxuries that aren’t really necessary. But they are.

We know this because of how they are used in the Bible. The Hebrew for “perfume” here is shemen, usually translated as oil. It refers to the oil used to anoint kings and the priests of the Temple. Incense, of course, was a key part of the daily offerings in the Temple, burnt every day in the sanctuary.

Perfume — shemen — and incense represent our spiritual, not physical, needs. And we should never make the mistake of thinking that our spiritual needs are not vital. Likewise, we should never underestimate the importance of kind words. Given at the right time, they can be lifesaving!

Your Turn:

Choose one person each day and offer them some kind words of encouragement. The impact is more than you can imagine!