I think it’s safe to say that one thing we would all like is some encouragement – just a kind word from our spouse, an “attaboy” from our boss, a nice note from a friend. Who couldn’t use a little encouragement from time to time? In each of my churches I’ve had many people who have encouraged me, but there have been a few who made it their ministry to build encouragement into my life on a regular basis and believe me there were days that I wouldn’t have gotten through without them. I thank God for those godly encouragers.
In the New Testament the idea of encouragement is related to the idea of comfort. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica comfort one another (4:18) and comfort yourselves together (5:11). The same word is used for encouragement. The concept of comfort gets to the heart of encouragement. When we encourage someone we bring comfort into their lives.
This word is also used in the book of Hebrews when the writer says that in these final days of human history we are to be busy exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day (of Christ’s return) approaching (10:25). Some translations (the NIV for example) use the phrase encouraging one another in place of exhorting one another. While both translations are viable, sometimes those of us who tend to be more in-your-face (guilty as charged) like the idea of exhorting people instead of encouraging them which has a gentler, kinder connotation. We might consider whether we would get farther with people if we encouraged more than we exhorted.
The point is that Christians are to be encouragers. Part of what we are to do is to encourage other followers of Christ who are down. We are to bless them, refresh their spirits and help them on their journey.
The secret to encouragement is not to wait until it arrives at your door but to give it away. Sure we all need to be encouraged but so does everyone else and if we’re all waiting then no one is giving.
So go out and encourage someone today – even if you don’t feel like it. You don’t need to find out if they’re discouraged or down, just pick someone out and find a way to encourage them. Practice a random act of encouragement. Your turn will come. Someday encouragement will show up at your door unannounced and you will be blest. But you will be doubly blest if while you’re waiting you’ve been busy encouraging others.
Stay in the Word