The Apostle Paul wrote frequently about the importance of encouragement. In 1Thessalonians 5:11 Paul wrote: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” He repeats the same instruction in 2 Corinthians 13:11, Romans 1:11-12, and Romans 15:5. Why did Paul consider this to be so important?
Paul knew that life, and especially the Christian life, can be difficult. While there is joy and peace that comes from a relationship with Jesus, there are also challenges and difficulties. None of us are immune, because we all live in a fallen world. Paul also knew, however, that those in Christian fellowship could and should support and strengthen each other. Only in that way could all of the new Believers reach their full faith potential. We all should, he instructed, be encouragers.
As we interact with our physical families, our church family, friends and relatives, let’s be proactive in finding reasons and occasions to encourage each other. Let’s pray for God to nudge us to sense those who may especially need encouragement. I wonder how many people have left a church fellowship because of lack of encouragement. Think about all the times you needed an encouraging word- did you receive it? If so, you know how timely it was and how it lifted your spirit and mood and got you back on track. If not, you remember that the struggle was difficult.
Remember, all of us need encouragement. Children need it to grow to their full potential in life. Spouses need it to feel loved and supported. Your friends need it because you may never know a particular struggle they are facing. Pastors and elders need it, because they carry a great responsibility which can become heavy at times. We all are determined to stay the course, and encouragement from others makes that trip much easier. Encouraged people are much more likely to reach their God-given potential. Here is what some leaders had to say:
“Encouragement is awesome. It can actually change the course of another person’s day, week, or life.” -Chuck Swindoll
“Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and all are to be loved!”- Augustine
“There is no passion to be found in playing small- settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”- Nelson Mandela
During the next week will you be especially mindful of being an encourager? If you do, be prepared for smiles and positive responses!