1 Thessalonians 5:9-11Amplified Bible
9 For God has not destined us to [incur His] wrath [that is, He did not select us to condemn us], but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died [willingly] for us, so that whether we are awake (alive) or asleep (dead) [at Christ’s appearing], we will live together with Him [sharing eternal life]. 11 Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
I can remember the moments like they were yesterday ….
“Mom, I can’t do this!” I cried.
“Yes, you can my son.
I know it’s going to be hard for you but stick with it.
The payout will be worth the effort.”
It wasn’t the news I wanted to hear, but I followed her advice and didn’t quit.
At 12 years old, I was hired for my first job.
I was the newspaper boy for more than an entire street.
Every day after school, I had to come home, put my school stuff down, grab my over-sized newspaper bag from where it was hung up and go to the bottom of my yard and wait for the newspaper delivery guy to bring me my daily supply.
I then had to cut the wire which held them together, count them out to be sure I had them all, then load any addons into the middle of the days paper and finally load them into my delivery bag – then start walking, riding my bike to my route.
Every single day – rain storms or sunshine or snow or sleet or raging heat – the paper had to be delivered – politely, with a smile, on time, to the right house.
There were more days than I could count where my protest was the rage of the house – it literally woke people up early in the morning from their sound sleep.
How many of those bad weather days, especially on Sundays when the paper was the heaviest with all of its additional sections and all its advertisements.
Many was the day when I feigned sickness to try and get out of it for one day.
Despite my array and diversity of protests, my mom refused to let me quit.
She encouraged me to press on and to push through and keep working hard.
At the end of it all six years later, I learned a whole lot about getting the job done – no matter what the day or evening or weather brought – perseverance!
Those days when I had to balance my job and my schoolwork helped form me into who I am today and taught me a very valuable lesson about perseverance and payout as my own savings account grew to quite the tidy sum afterwards.
My mother’s daily encouragement.
Sometimes, my mother’s several times a day, daily encouragement.
God rest my Mother’s soul ….
Throughout Scripture, God’s word heavily encourages us to not be discouraged, inspires us continuously to not grow weary, and to not stop meeting together.
From Genesis through Revelation, we are instructed to encourage one another.
Jesus told his followers, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Scripture clearly tells us that believers will endure hardship, but Jesus and the Biblical writers also gives an encouragement that we can overcome the world.
Without encouragement, we lose hope in the midst of troubles and afflictions.
Life can be difficult, full of persecution and hatred.
At times, recognizing that there is meaning in the seemingly inconsequential things we do seems next to impossible.
We may want to give up.
Yet, He who is faithful calls us to be faithful and gives us the power to do so.
1 Thessalonians 5:11Amplified Bible
11 Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.
Christian encouragement is a command, but one we find awkward to employ in everyday life.
It does not have to be uncomfortable, though.
Like any other skill, we get better at it with practice.
But – we do have to practice it – at every available opportunity.
With that in mind,
here are five suggestions to help you grow in your ability to encourage others.
1. Turn to the Word of Go for the Children of God
Not everyone is naturally comfortable crafting the perfect words for a given situation.
In practicing encouragement, I have found that the fewer words I use of my own, the better.
This realization has relieved me to encourage all the more, and with greater truthfulness.
I don’t need to fumble around my words to encourage; I need God’s Word.
Let the Scriptures be your starting point for encouraging others.
Share with fellow believers where you see the Spirit working in and through them.
Point out the fruit of the Spirit you see growing in them (Galatians 5:22-23).
Regularly affirm them in their spiritual gifting and the faithful use of those gifts (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12).
Our celebrating of someone’s effort at bearing spiritual fruit and gifting is an excellent place to start on the path towards true Christian encouragement.
2. Be Specific
Our encouragement is most meaningful when we take enough interest in others and are specific with our encouragement.
Be observant of those in your believing community.
Who is quick to volunteer and serve others?
Who models self-control in their words and actions?
Who exhibits patience with those who talk perhaps more than they should?
Who exhibits perseverance in those situations and tasks which require long term commitment and planning and rigorously careful attention to detail.
Based on what you observe, offer concrete examples of how you have seen this person live out their faith.
It’s deeply encouraging for someone to hear someone speak these words to you,
“I needed to tell you I saw God’s grace at work when you did this or said that.”
Specific examples in specific situations bless the hearer and show that you have taken genuine interest in them.
The person’s age is not a deciding factor here – everyone needs to hear those words which inspire them on to better and greater things – like self-esteem!
3. Be Intentional
Give thought to who could use encouragement.
When I was Pastoring my small church, I and my ministry team deliberately set aside some time during some of our team meetings to encourage one another.
We choose an individual in advance to focus on for each meeting, then took intentional time to tell them specifically how we saw them being used by God.
Their smiles were deeply gratifying to see, their expressions of gratitude -were invariably warming to my Pastor’s heart and to the small group of attendees.
It deepened us as individuals and fostered a necessary bond as a community.
Whether we work for a church or not, we are all doing the work of ministry, and because it is difficult work, we all need encouragement.
The best way to be intentional is to think ahead and praise someone based on where you see faithfulness and fruit of the Spirit in a brother or sister.
That is intentionality in encouragement, and it draws us away from the depths.
4. Be Selfless
Have you ever held back from encouraging someone because you were afraid you might feed their pride?
Have you ever withheld encouragement because you viewed someone as a rival in your work environment or your circle of friends?
We all have, but Christian encouragement and flattery sit at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Don’t let fear of being seen as a flatterer cause you to curtail your genuine words of encouragement.
Don’t let your own hiccups and hang-ups inhibit your praise of others.
The one who encourages practices selflessness, taking the words of Proverbs 12:18 to heart: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
We have a choice to be selfish or selfless in our encouragement.
We can either harm by the selfishness of our silence or diminished praise, or we can heal by the selflessness of our fruitful words driven by the Holy Scriptures.
5. Be Bold and Courageous
Please do not just encourage for godly things already done but encourage also the pursuit of godly things not being done, as well.
We often need godly courage in order to give someone else godly courage.
Remember the Prophet Nathan as he dared enter into David’s throne room to confront him about his adulterous actions with Bathsheba, his criminal actions with Uriah, the Hittite – Bathsheba’s husband – conspiring to get him killed?
If a friend is in grievous sin – gambling, pornography, adultery, cheating, drugs and alcohol to abuse and even participation in criminal activities, find words to encourage them toward desiring Christlikeness, instead of high-risk behaviors.
If a friend is engaging in gossip, find words to encourage them toward Christ-honoring speech.
Be a gracious friend rather than a legalist focusing on ‘necessary’ outcomes.
The more you can try to identify with your friend’s battle, the more loving your encouragement will be – the even more likely you friend finds God (Psalm 51).
Use Christian boldness and courage to confront sin with kindness, gentleness.
I believe encouragement should take its place alongside any list of spiritual disciplines.
I have personally found few exercises to be more challenging and affirming to my walk with Christ and to my ability to befriend my own brothers and sisters.
When we encourage someone, we have the opportunity to speak healing truth into their life.
We do this by grace through a heart changed by Christ and words drawn from Scripture.
In this Christlike way, may we strive to excel in edifying, building up the church in God’s Neighborhood – bringing people together in God (1 Corinthians 14:12).
In the early church, a man named Joseph was given the nickname, Barnabas.
This name literally means, son of encouragement.
Through this man’s steadfast encouragement, the zealous Saul who became the apostle Paul was gradually accepted by the church in Jerusalem and through the encouragement of Barnabas, Mark was given his second chance after a failure.
Who doesn’t need a second chance?
Encouragement gives hope when we want to give up and burnout.
Encouragement allows us to not be overwhelmed by the pains of life.
Encouragement is necessary in our walk of faith.
Encouragement makes it easier for believers to love as Jesus loves.
Encouragement makes it easier to put others before ourselves.
Encouragement breeds patience and kindness and perseverance.
So, encourage one another, spur one another on toward love and good deeds, remind one other of the truth of God’s love.
Encouragement allows us to more fully experience God’s life more abundantly.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Affirm …
We believe and know
that Jesus is the Holy One of God.
We believe that he is the Christ,
the Son of God,
who was to come into the world.
We believe that he is in the Father
and the Father is in him.
We believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God,
and that by believing
we have life in his name. Amen.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for you have destined us for salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
You created the earth
and entrusted it into our hands.
You called a people to be your own,
and when they were cruelly oppressed
you raised up your prophet, Deborah,
and spoke through her of the day of deliverance.
You have spoken to us through your Son, Jesus,
teaching us to look to you and trust in your kindness,
and to be faithful stewards of your gifts.
He was scorned and mocked
and died for us but was raised by you.
You have promised a day of judgment and deliverance,
when Christ will come
as unexpectedly as a thief in the night,
to reveal the children of light
and gather all who have been trustworthy
with what you have given
into his kingdom of joy.
Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.